Tag Archives: wdfw

With Coho Quota Almost Full, WDFW Says Ilwaco, Westport Salmon Fishing To Close After Aug. 22

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

Ocean salmon fishery off Ilwaco and Westport to close early

Action:   Close Marine Areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport) to salmon fishing.

Effective Dates:  Effective 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 22.

HUNTER HIGGINBOTHAM SHOWED OFF HIS SKILLS WHILE SALMON FISHING OUT OF WESTPORT. THIS COHO BIT A HERRING BEHIND A FISH FLASH FOR THE LAD. (VIA JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM)

Species affected:  All salmon.

Locations:  Marine Areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport), Cape Falcon, Oregon to Queets River, Washington.

Reason for action: Estimates indicate that anglers will reach quotas for coho salmon by the end of the day Tuesday. Closing the salmon fishery early will help ensure compliance with conservation requirements.

Other information: Recreational fisheries in Ilwaco and Westport would have closed earlier in August but were able to remain open due to transfers of quota by the commercial troll fishery to the recreational fishery. 

Marine Areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) and the Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River remain open as scheduled.

Salmon Fishing Pier Closes In Downtown Seattle

I’ve been bombing my local beach fairly regularly this summer, with the usual mixed results, and a thought recently flashed through my mind.

I could sure as hell use a pier to cast further out there.

“Further out there,” in this particular case, was approximately where the two guys in the canopied sled had just pulled a salmon out of the drink in front of me during blustery, misty weather this past Sunday morning.

Even with a big 3XH-size Buzz Bomb lashed on my line, I wasn’t coming anywhere close.

A FISHING PIER IN SEATTLE NORTH OF THE BIG WHEEL HAS BEEN CLOSED DUE TO “PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERNS.”

Salmon anglers around a few points to the south of me recently found themselves in the same proverbial boat after they lost access to their pier.

Pier 86, on the northeast side of Elliott Bay by the big grain terminal, was locked up earlier this month.

No, it wasn’t the annual temporary closure for Hempfest.

This time it’s for “public safety concerns.”

Insert eye-roll emoji here.

As an angler, public safety concerns just go with the territory of fishing — loose rocks, muddy banks, mad cows, crazed dogs, rusty hooks, rusty hooks through various portions of the anatomy, etc., etc., etc.

But in this case it’s a public pier, one that had been jointly managed by the Port of Seattle and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife until 2009.

Undoubtedly some back-office hack somewhere has been fretting over insurance rates and liabilities, etc., just knowing that while an angler would waltz out on a creaking, dilapidated pile of debris to take a cast, probably fall in, crawl out to take another cast and consider it all just the cost of doing business, per se, a fresh-off-the-boat tourist who stubbed their toe at the entrance would sue for a trillion.

“Safety hazards associated with the pier’s structure and utilities prompted its indefinite closure,” says a note from the Port of Seattle.

It’s affecting business at a B&T right there.

“I’m losing money here,” Ronn Kess of Fish on Bait and Tackle Shop told KOMO last week. “The fishermen can’t fish. I can’t sell bait, hooks and lures.”

In a radio interview with John Kruse of Northwestern Outdoors Radio to be broadcast on KRKO 1380 AM this Saturday between 8 and 9 a.m., WDFW Regional Manager Russell Link pointed to frequently vandalized lights and tagged equipment.

He said a “condition summary” from a few years ago pegged the cost at $435,000 to bring the facility up to snuff.

However, an Aug. 10 press release from the agency that mentions “cracked piers” lists the repairs at $2 million to $5 million.

Link says that both parties have agreed to look for funding for those repairs.

It’s a shame that public access to a salmon fishing spot was closed as the fish arrived (the port and WDFW point to Pier 69, down by the Olympic Sculpture Park, as an option).

And it’s even more of a shame in a year where we see the absolute A-1 prime beaches along Admiralty Inlet closed as of Sept. 5.

I sincerely hope money is found for the fixes. I notice that the Capital Budget still hasn’t been passed. I know there’s a process. I like fishing access.

WA Ocean Salmon Fishing Report (8-16-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 7,052 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 1,667 Chinook and 5,578 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 5,747 Chinook (44% of the area guideline) and 16,581 coho (79% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

 

Westport

 

A total of 4,339 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 796 Chinook and 2,995 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 5,828 Chinook (27% of the area guideline) and 13,766 coho (76% of the revised area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 287 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 78 Chinook and 369 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 337 Chinook (14% of the area guideline) and 763 coho (70% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 476 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 273 Chinook and 167 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 7,116 Chinook (90% of the area guideline) and 2,378 coho (54% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

 

4 Wells Hatchery Workers Fired Following Investigation Into Activities

A high-ranking state lawmaker and a Fish and Wildlife Commissioner are calling for changes within WDFW after reports surfaced that a highly sexualized culture also existed at an Eastern Washington hatchery, where four workers were fired last week.

Two stories out this morning paint an ugly picture of goings-on at the Wells Hatchery on the Upper Columbia, where the manager and three top hatchery specialists allegedly “routinely talked about sex and asked explicit sexual questions of coworkers” and made remarks about “the bodies of women who visited the hatchery.”

The pieces are reported by Walker Orenstein of The News Tribune of Tacoma and Austin Jenkins of the Northwest News Network.

They’re based on a 30-page report by Daphne R. Schneider and Associates commissioned this March after workers at a nearby hatchery expressed their concerns about alleged behavior at Wells to a WDFW officer.

Northwest Sportsman has filed a public disclosure request for the document, but in the meanwhile the reporters’ articles paint a picture of both the alleged activities and the workers’ defense.

The four men who were fired passed their conversations off as “locker room talk,” but it was allegedly so bad for one coworker that she left for a position elsewhere.

WDFW said that it is not pursuing criminal charges against the quartet “because their misconduct did not appear to rise to that level, agency spokesman Bruce Botka said. Also, the consulting firm did not conclude anyone had been sexually harassed,” Orenstein reported.

They can appeal their removal.

For WDFW, the latest story is effectively a one-two punch.

Early last week, Orenstein and Jenkins reported about a law firm’s investigation of sexual harassment claims at the agency’s Olympia headquarters.

Afterwards, Botka told Northwest Sportsman that “Director Jim Unsworth again today said he has no tolerance for the sorts of allegations that have surfaced in these stories and in this case.”

JIM UNSWORTH. (WDFW)

This latest incident left Unsworth “startled and taken aback” and he felt that the firing of the four would send a strong message throughout WDFW’s 1,500-plus employees.

Certainly, a problem was identified, investigated and action was taken, but some are calling for even more.

Rep. Brian Blake, the chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which many WDFW-related bills go through, called on WDFW’s overseers to put their foot down.

REP. BRIAN BLAKE, D-ABERDEEN. (TVW)

“The [Fish and Wildlife] Commission who governs this agency needs to step up and through the director communicate very strongly that there needs to be somebody in charge that does have this expertise in the ability to change cultures,” Blake told the newspaper and radio reporters.

One of those members, Commissioner Barbara Baker, who was appointed earlier this year by Governor Jay Inslee, said that even more stringent training is needed, it was reported.

IN THIS TVW SCREENGRAB, WASHINGTON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER BARBARA BAKER SPEAKS BEFORE THE SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES AND PARKS COMMITTEE PUBLIC HEARING ON HER APPOINTMENT TO THE PANEL, SET TO RUN AT LEAST THROUGH 2022. (TVW)

Wells Hatchery is owned by Douglas County PUD and operated by WDFW. It rears hundreds of thousands of summer steelhead, summer Chinook, trout and kokanee for fisheries, as well as sturgeon for conservation programs.

Troublingly, Jenkins’s report mentions possible misuse of state equipment by the former manager, while Orenstein’s article says that the WDFW officer’s initial report suggested hatchery workers had been “coached to provide false numbers for fish stocking records.”

This is not the first time WDFW hatcheries have been in the news for sex-related activities.

In 2012,  Carl E. Jouper, the former manager of the George Adams Hatchery in Mason County, was jailed for 90 days after pleading guilty to voyeurism, putting a camera in the women’s bathroom there.

Good News For Early Season NW Duck Hunters In Annual Survey

Silver lining to all of last winter and spring’s rain? Plenty of water for waterfowl to do their thing — and boy howdy did they ever.

Nearly twice as many ducks were counted in Washington compared to last year, according to a federal survey released today.

WATERFOWLERS LIKE LES CUMMINGS AND LES LOGSDON SHOULD SEE MORE MALLARDS AND WOODS DUCKS THIS FALL, THANKS TO STELLAR PRODUCTION IN WASHINGTON AND LIKELY GOOD PRODUCTION IN OREGON. THE DUO LIMITED AT THE BARKER RANCH NEAR RICHLAND EARLY LAST FALL WHILE PARTICIPATING IN A DISABLED VETERANS HUNT PUT ON THERE EACH OCTOBER. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s good news for hunting in the early season, which is typically fueled by local production until migrating northern birds arrive.

“In Washington the total duck estimate was 99% higher than the 2016 estimate, and 44% above the long-term average (2010–2016),” reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They may not have the bright-orange legs of their Alberta brethren, but Evergreen State mallards did well, up 72 percent over last year and 29 percent above the 1978-2016 average, USFWS adds.

To the south, Oregon’s 2017 total duck and mallard estimates were similar to 2016 and the long-term average, though greenheads were down 21 percent over the long haul.

But there may not really be any reason for Beaver State waterfowlers to get their waders in a bunch over that.

For our September issue’s fall flight forecast, MD Johnson interviewed ODFW’s duck boss Brandon Rieshus.

“Normally, we count the best of the best – the Willamette Valley and the wetlands in Eastern Oregon – as examples. Maybe the birds were scattered across the basin in places we don’t count. But from a habitat standpoint, it looked very good. The best it’s been in four or five years. (My guess is) production will be pretty good,” Rieshus told Johnson.

The USFWS report backs that notion.

“Habitat conditions in Oregon were much improved relative to the past several years and were good to excellent in all surveyed areas. Some areas of southcentral and southeastern Oregon had basins and playas with water for the first time in a decade or more. Many playas and dugout ponds throughout the High Desert were flooded as well,” the agency stated.

It was even wetter to the north.

“In Washington, overall water availability was the among wettest seen in 20 years according to state wildlife area staff and others, particularly through the Potholes and Channeled Scablands region, where potholes and ponds were plentiful. Reservoirs throughout east­ern Washington were at or above 100% capacity with associated flooding of fields and pastures. In early May, significant snowmelt runoff was still occurring throughout the Okanogan and Northeast Highlands,” USFWS reported.

A U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MAP FOR WASHINGTON STREAM FLOWS SHOWS THAT CREEKS AND RIVERS IN EASTERN WASHINGTON STILL RUNNING AT ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS, INCLUDING CRAB CREEK, AND THE PALOUSE AND WALLA WALLA RIVERS. (USGS)

In terms of hard numbers, Washington’s mallard population was estimated at 103,400, well above 2016’s 60,000 (overall ducks: 242,000 vs. 121,500.

Oregon’s duck population was 239,900, up from last year’s 213,600.

Looking across the rest of North America, Ducks Unlimited reports that the overall estimate of 47.3 million breeding ducks in traditional survey zones is less than a million birds below 2016’s count, but still 34 percent above the 60-year average.

While mallards are down 11.3 percent, DU points to dry conditions in the Canadians “Parklands” of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 

New Procedure For Bringing Canadian-side Salmon Back To Sekiu, PA

Biggest misnomer in Northwest salmon fishing this season?

That Sekiu’s closed for coho.

While US waters are indeed off limits in September and October, not so the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, making this über-fishy port a prime jumping-off point for intercepting silvers heading for Puget Sound and southwest British Columbia rivers.

YOU MIGHT SET A COURSE FOR SEKIU AFTER ALL THIS SEASON — RULES HAVE BEEN AMENDED TO MAKE IT EASIER TO LAND STATESIDE WITH SALMON CAUGHT IN CANADIAN WATERS. (NOAA)

Yes, you’ll have to bone up on the brand-spankin’ new rules for bringing fish back from the Great White North’s waters — and yes it’ll be worth it, thanks to a bigger forecast than 2016 when it was “on fire.”

Mark Yuasa, formerly of The Seattle Times, makes his debut in our pages with a September issue piece about heading Strait across for silvers.

“There isn’t a reason to say the town of Sekiu is closed while salmon fishing is thriving in Canada, and it’s so easy for an angler to still get out and fish,” Brandon Mason, owner of Mason’s Olson Resort (olsons-resort.com) in Sekiu, told Yuasa. “By boat it’s a short 7-mile (25- to 30-minute) ride to find some great fishing opportunities.”

In the lead-up to the fishery, WDFW has just issued an emergency rule-change notice that updates how to bring salmon landed in BC back to Sekiu.

To wit:

Amends Canadian-origin salmon transportation rule

Action: Changes the method for obtaining clearance for transporting Canadian-caught salmon into Washington waters from a Canadian phone line to an online form available on WDFW’s website.

Effective Date:  Effective 12:01 a.m., Aug. 16, until further notice.

Species affected: Salmon.

Location: Washington marine areas.

Reason for action: Canadian Customs and Border Security regulations related to requirement for obtaining a customs clearance number have recently changed. This regulation is needed to provide an alternate means for persons seeking to possess and/or land Canadian caught fish in Washington waters or ports of call.

Other information: Visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/canadian_catch.php to obtain a confirmation code. The form requests basic trip and contact information from the party leader that must be submitted prior to leaving Washington with the intent of fishing for salmon in Canada. The party leader will receive an email from WDFW with your confirmation code.

Information contact: Fish Program: Ryan Lothrop, (360) 902-2808; Enforcement Program: Dan Chadwick, 360-249-4628, ex 1253.

Mason Co., North Sound GMUs Added To Elk Hoof Restriction Zone

Hoof rot in Western Washington elk is back in the news after the Fish and Wildlife Commission earlier this month expanded the area where hooves must be left in the field, while an advisory panel is set to hold a work session tomorrow in a hard hit part of the state.

Starting with next month’s archery season, elk hunters will need to leave the hooves of any wapiti they harvest in two Mason County game management units and four in the North Sound at the site of the kill.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS AREAS OF WESTERN WASHINGTON WHERE ELK HUNTERS PREVIOUSLY (GREEN) HAD TO LEAVE THEIR KILLS’ HOOVES IN THE FIELD AS WELL AS SIX NEW UNITS (BLUE) WHERE THEY WILL HAVE TO BEGINNING THIS YEAR. (WDFW

Not many elk were killed in GMUs 633 and 636 last year — just five, according to WDFW stats — but a total of 127 were taken in 407, 418, 437, and 454, North Sound, Nooksack, Sauk and Issaquah.

The move follows on similar previous efforts in Southwest Washington, where hoof rot was first reported. It’s believed to be caused by a bacteria common to the livestock world and is spread as elk move around. The condition makes it increasingly difficult for elk to walk, leading to them limping around the landscape. TAHD, or treponeme-associated hoof disease, has been confirmed in all six of the new GMUs.

As for that work session, WDFW’s advisory Elk Hoof Disease Public Working Group is holding that from 1 to 4 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 15, at WDFW’s new Region 5 office in Ridgefield (5525 11th St.).

The public is welcome to attend, but comments are limited to the end of the meeting.

For more on the working group, go here.

For more on elk hoof disease, go here.

Shark Week Addendum: AZ Angler’s WA Blue Shark Sets State Record

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

An Arizona angler fishing out of Westport has established the sport fish record for the largest blue shark caught in Washington waters, fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed today.

ZACHARY JACKSON HOLDS WASHINGTON’S STATE RECORD BLUE SHARK, THE FIRST IN ITS CATEGORY. (WDFW)

Zachary Jackson, from Show Low, Arizona, caught the 27.63-pound blue shark on July 30. Jackson caught the fish, which measured 55 ¾ inches, while fishing for albacore tuna using anchovies as bait.

“We were mainly trying to keep the bait away from the shark,” said Jackson. “The shark bit my friend’s line, then I noticed my line going in the wrong direction and kept thinking he would cut it, but eventually I slowly brought him to the boat.”

This was the first blue shark submitted for a state record in Washington. Jackson was fishing in the Pacific Ocean 57 miles off Washington’s coast.

Jackson makes the trip to Washington to fish for albacore tuna out of Westport about every other year, and describes Westport as “one of the more consistent places to catch albacore on the West Coast.”

WDFW Offering Free Bird Hunting Clinics, Mentored Hunts

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Hunter Education program is offering free hunting clinics geared towards teaching participants the basics of hunting turkey, waterfowl and upland game birds in southcentral and southwest Washington.

THE CHAMPOUX FAMILY OF THE YAKIMA VALLEY SHOW OFF THEIR HARVEST FOLLOWING A LATE 2015 UPLAND BIRD HUNTING CLINIC AND MENTORED HUNT PUT ON BY WDFW. (WDFW)

The clinics, which run on various dates through Oct. 31, will last two to four hours and cover the basics of hunting. In addition to classroom time, the clinics may include range time for patterning shotguns, said Aaron Garcia, WDFW Hunter Education coordinator.

Some clinics provide opportunities for beginning hunters to learn under the guidance of volunteer hunter education instructors, Master Hunters, and local hunting organizations. Participants in these mentored hunts must have valid hunting licenses.

Classes can fill fast and registration is first come, first served online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/huntered/clinics.

The schedule is as follows:

Aug.12, 2 p.m. – Fall Turkey Clinic at Cabelas in Union Gap, Yakima County in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Aug. 13, 2 p.m.  – Fall Turkey Clinic at Cabelas in Union Gap, Yakima County in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Aug. 27, 12-noon – Waterfowl Hunting Clinic at the Vancouver Trap Club in Clark County.

Sept. 2, 6 a.m. – Mentored Dove Hunting at the Sunnyside Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit in southeast Yakima County.

Sept. 23, 6 a.m. – Mentored Upland Bird Hunting for youth only (15 and under). Mentors with dogs will be at the Sunnyside Wildlife Area pheasant release sites in southeast Yakima County.

Sept. 23, 6 a.m. – Mentored Upland Bird Hunting for youth only (15 and under). Mentors with dogs will be at the Cottonwoods pheasant release site on the Wenas Wildlife Area in Kittitas County.

Sept. 23 – Oct. 31, Mentored Early Fall Turkey Hunts on multiple days at multiple locations across the state. WDFW is matching registrants with First Hunt Foundation (http://www.firsthuntfoundation.com/) mentors.

Sept. 30, 7 a.m. – Mentored Pheasant Hunt for youth only (15 and under), followed by Upland Bird Hunting Clinic, at Reds Fly Shop/Canyon River Ranch in Ellensburg, Kittitas County.  The clinic after the youth hunt is open to all age registrants.

Garcia notes that youth hunters who attend with adult guardians and their own bird dogs, and do not require help from WDFW mentors can register for the Sept. 23 pheasant hunts at Sunnyside and Cottonwoods release sites.

WDFW: ‘No Tolerance’ For Activities Detailed In News Reports

WDFW is reacting to a pair of news stories about a report that claims a “sexualized culture” existed among a few at upper levels of the agency before a rape allegation surfaced against a former wildlife manager there more than two years ago.

“The bottom line for me is, this was a couple years ago, we’re a big agency. We had some folks who behaved inappropriately and we take that seriously and have taken action to resolve it,” Deputy Director Joe Stohr told Northwest Sportsman this afternoon.

“Director Jim Unsworth again today said he has no tolerance for the sorts of allegations that have surfaced in these stories and in this case,” added Bruce Botka, WDFW spokesman.

In their joint reporting, The News Tribune of Tacoma and public radio’s Northwest News Network focus on a report from a Snohomish County law firm that contains accounts from several individuals, including Gregory A. Schirato, 55, who was charged with second-degree rape and first-degree burglary in April 2015.

Schirato has pleaded not guilty to the alleged crimes, and his attorney told the Tribune‘s Walker Orenstein his client would be found innocent at his upcoming trial, which appears to have been moved to September. Schirato had been with the agency from 1983 into 2015, when he was fired.

The 29-page report from MFR Law Group was commissioned two years by WDFW to look into allegations of sexual harassment made by both Schirato and his alleged victim, according to radio reporter Austin Jenkins.

According to Orenstein, it found “a group of workers in the agency’s upper echelon often held or tolerated sexually explicit conversations at work. Some engaged in other inappropriate behavior both on the clock and after hours.”

For WDFW, yesterday’s news reopens a wound that will fester.

Stohr called it all a “sad and tragic occurrence” and said that WDFW has done a number of things to support staff members.

Botka said that speaking with people at regional offices, the feedback he’s getting is that “the vast majority in this agency have never heard of that or sensed anything like that.”

Stohr lauded WDFW employees, saying they’re “dedicated to protecting the resource.”