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State, Tribal Fall FDR Pike Survey Turns Up More Bad News, But Slivers Of Good

More details are coming out about last week’s large-scale joint state-tribal survey on Lake Roosevelt, one that alarmingly turned up a 6-pound pike just 10 miles from Grand Coulee Dam and a 27.5-pound northern in the upper Spokane Arm, but may have also reduced bycatch over last fall’s effort.

Fishery managers say that it’s all about figuring out the best way to suppress pike populations to keep them from chewing up the reservoir’s more popular game fish species.

Asked about angler concerns over nontarget species also being netted, WDFW’s Chuck Lee defends, “If it doesn’t get done, those (hatchery trout) aren’t going to be around either.”

A WDFW NET SET ON UPPER LAKE ROOSEVELT CAPTURED A 31-INCH, 10-POUND NORTHERN PIKE THAT HAD EATEN A 16-INCH RAINBOW TROUT. (WDFW)

A 31-inch, 10-pound pike caught in one of the agency’s 50 net sets had a 16-inch rainbow in its stomach.

The other primary worry with pike is that the invasive nonnative species will get into the anadromous zone below Chief Joseph, the next dam below Grand Coulee, with its ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks.

“Adult sockeye aren’t too much bigger than that rainbow trout,” Lee points out.

Roosevelt also hosts white sturgeon, kokanee, burbot, lake whitefish — one that was 2 pounds heavier than the state record was sampled last week — walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch.

This is the second fall survey in a row and WDFW took the upper portion of Roosevelt while the Spokane Tribe worked the Spokane Arm and midsection with 50 net sets and the Colville Tribes hit from the dam to Hawk Creek with yet another 50.

If there’s good news, it’s that the Colvilles caught only that one pike in their 37-mile lower reservoir stretch.

“As alarming as it was, we’re glad it was only one fish,” Lee says.

But more and more are turning up midlake, he adds.

Overall, 152 were caught, with 112 by WDFW in their area of responsibility.

Lee notes that for this survey adjustments were made in where the agency set its nets.

“We figured we could eliminate 40 percent of the bycatch by moving them shallower,” he says.

Some deeper sets last year also came up empty.

Figures were still being crunched but Lee says less than 20 fish were caught per state soak.

The comanagers’ overall goal is to figure out how they can get the best bang for their buck with the effort.

“What we’re really trying to find out is, What’s the best way to monitor northern pike and measure suppression efforts — which is the best season for doing suppression?” Lee says.

While spring and the spawn is a good time, the weather is often poor and the reservoir is drawn down. But fall’s stable conditions may be more ideal.

Either season is good if you’re a species that managers and anglers want to save, thanks to cold to cooling water temperatures that make it more likely released fish will survive.

Lake whitefish and nets, however, aren’t a good combination, which most being killed.

A spring 2017 survey saw survival rates of 45 percent for walleye, 37 percent for hatchery rainbows, and greater than 50 percent overall for other species.

“We want to learn from suppression efforts to do it better,” Lee says, adding that funding is a bit of a problem.

Money has been coming from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

As for other results from this fall’s survey, that ginormous 27.5-pound pike caught by the Spokane Tribe was a relatively rare specimen as tribal suppression efforts — both netting and $10 rewards for fish heads — appear to be resulting in younger and younger pike, the number one goal, according to Lee.

SPOKANE TRIBE BIOLOGISTS, WHO CAUGHT THIS NEARLY 4-FOOT-LONG PIKE IN THE SPOKANE ARM LAST WEEK, PLANNED TO DISSECT THE FISH AND SEE WHAT IT’S BEEN EATING. (SPOKANE TRIBE)

Smaller pike have fewer eggs, but the species is one you can’t let your guard down on either.

Befitting their reputation as “nightmare fish,” Lee says northerns can hold off spawning till later in the year, when water temps are otherwise well above their optimal range of 40 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

“All they need is a little vegetation,” Lee says.

Correction, 11:15 a.m., Nov. 14, 2018: The initial version of this blog stated that WDFW had caught 152 pike in this fall’s survey, but that was actually the overall catch by the state and tribes. WDFW’s nets caught 112 pike.

SW Washington Fishing Report (11-13-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 7 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead and released 15 coho.

JASON RESSER HOLDS A HATCHERY COHO CAUGHT ON THE KALAMA SEVERAL SEASONS BACK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Abernathy Creek – No anglers sampled.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 12 bank rods had no catch.  1 boat/1 rod released 2 coho jacks.

Above the I-5 Br:  87 bank rods kept 2 coho jacks, 1 steelhead, 5 cutthroat and released 28 chinook, 2 coho, 1 coho jack and  1 steelhead. 11 boats/24 rods kept 4 coho, 11 coho jacks, 2 steelhead and released 5 chinook jacks, 1 coho jack and 3 cutthroat.

Kalama River – 31 bank anglers kept 4 coho, 2 steelhead and released 2 coho.  3 boats/6 rods released 1 chinook.

Lewis River – 12 bank rods kept 2 chinook and released 1 coho.  17 boats/33 rods kept 1 chinook, 3 coho and 1 coho jack.

East Fork Lewis River – 4 bank anglers released 1 coho and 2 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – No anglers sampled.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River – 73 bank anglers kept 8 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 10 coho , 3 coho jacks and released 1 chinook and 1 coho jack.

Chums Begin To Arrive In Central, South Sound After Slow Start, Dispute

State commercial fishing managers say they scrubbed a Puget Sound chum salmon fishery last week after the Squaxin Island Tribe expressed “deep doubts about the run.”

“We understand tribal concerns with their fisheries occurring in extreme terminal areas and closed the seine fishery to help address those concerns,” reads a WDFW statement sent out late Friday afternoon.

THE SQUAXIN ISLAND TRIBE CALLED “FOUL” ON STATE SALMON MANAGERS LAST WEEK IN PROTEST OF CONTINUED FISHING ON AT THE TIME WHAT LOOKED LIKE A LOW RETURN OF CHUM SALMON. A CHUM LEAPS OUT OF ALASKA’S COLD BAY. (K. MUELLER, USFWS)

Squaxin Chairman Arnold Cooper had blasted the agency earlier in the week for planning to continue to fish despite low initial returns and the tribe deciding not to go out for chums.

“When the co-manager alerts you to a problem in real fish, they need to stop telling us that the computer model says there is plenty of paper fish and there is no problem,” Cooper said in a press release. “The state ignores the warning, on the hope that the rains will come, the rivers will rise, and the fish will show up. The tribe hopes that is so, but is not willing to risk the run.”

Cooper said that at the time returns to Kennedy Creek at the head of Totten Inlet was just 20 percent of usual.

WDFW acknowledged that fewer chums were showing up in streams that see early runs, but said there have been good signs to the north.

“Purse seine catch per landing in Areas 10 and 11 on Monday was the highest we have seen for this week since 2007,” the statement said. “Two weeks ago it was one of the lowest we have seen in recent years.”

WDFW reports that 165,000 chums have been caught in the nontribal commercial fishery off Seattle and Tacoma. It said that while there are still salmon available for state netters (~36,000), per a preseason agreement the fishery closed as of last Friday morning to protect Nisqually River winter chums.

Southern resident killer whales from J Pod have been feasting on chums off Vashon Island and elsewhere in the Central Sound since last week. Transient, or marine mammal-eating Bigg’s orcas, have also been in the area.

Chums were definitely in evidence in Seattle’s Pipers Creek over the weekend, where 40 had been counted by early afternoon on Saturday, ballooning the season total to 54.

THE BROTHERS WALGAMOTT LOOK FOR CHUMS AND COHO SATURDAY IN SEATTLE’S PIPERS CREEK WHERE IT RUNS THROUGH CARKEEK PARK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW says that surveyors spotted far more chums in Kennedy Creek, 3,524, on Nov. 7, though that figure is on the low side.

“While we may be below the 10-year average for this date of 9,033 chum, we are within the range expected during this time, especially given the lack of rain which typically serves as an environmental cue for fish to move onto the spawning grounds,” the agency statement said.

According to precipitation totals posted on KOMO’s website, November rainfall is one-third of average and running 1.25 inches behind since the start of the water year, Oct. 1.

The escapement goal for Kennedy Creek is 14,400 in even years, 11,500 in odds. According to WDFW, those figures have been met 27 years in a row.

The overall preseason forecast for Central and South Sound was 543,637. The state and tribes agreed to lower that to 478,000 two weeks ago, but WDFW test fishery and purse seine models last week spit out 643,566 and 538,330, figures the tribes didn’t agree to.

A POD OF CHUMS HEAD UP PIPERS CREEK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW Announces Steelhead Changes On Straits Rivers, Reach, Columbia

Editor’s note: Updated at 5:30 p.m. November 8th 2019 with smolt release stats for the Hoko and Sekiu Rivers.

Heads up for Olympic Peninsula, Tri-Cities and Columbia Gorge steelheaders on several recent rule changes as one run begins and another never really got started.

We’ll take them one at a time, starting on the Eastside.

The Hanford Reach will close to steelheading as of Nov. 10 due to a very low return of summer-runs.

WITH A VERY POOR RETURN OF STEELHEAD TO THE RINGOLD SPRINGS HATCHERY, WDFW IS CLOSING THE HANFORD REACH EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY, NOV. 10. THE REYES BROTHERS — ISSAC, LEVI AND IVAN — SHOW OFF A SUMMER-RUN CAUGHT THERE IN MARCH 2015. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

According to state managers, only 96 have entered the Ringold Springs Hatchery so far, “the lowest return on record in the past 18 years,” putting the goal of collecting 300,000 eggs to produce 180,000 smolts in 2020 in peril.

By this time in 2017, 254 fish had checked in at the facility. In 2016, 224 had.

This year has seen an overall poor return of steelhead to the Inland Northwest, and earlier in the season retention was closed on the Columbia downstream of Highway 395 in Tri-Cities, and limits were dropped in the Snake system.

By 2016-17 catch stats, the latest available, the best fishing in the Reach was in October, with 108 retained, but the waters between Highway 295 and the old powerlines at the Hanford town site did put out dozens of fish each month through March.

Two mountain ranges away to the northwest, along with your floats and jigs you’ll want to bring a tape measure if you fish two Clallam County streams this winter.

When hatchery steelhead were released into the Hoko and Sekiu Rivers in spring 2016 and 2017, they weren’t fin clipped as usual “because of warm river temperatures and consequent fish health concerns,” according to a WDFW emergency rule-change notice

So then how do you know if you’ve caught a keeper or a wild steelhead that must be released?

Take that big fin on its back and put your measuring device against it.

“Dorsal fin heights of hatchery steelhead are shorter than comparably sized wild steelhead. The standard of 2 1/8 inches has been used elsewhere to identify unclipped hatchery steelhead,” WDFW states.

The same rule tweak was in effect last winter on the Hoko and previously on a river further south on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Hoko produced 129 hatchery steelhead during the 2016-17 season, mostly in December.

According to state fisheries biologist Mike Gross, just under 24,000 smolts were released into the Hoko for return this year, 10700 in the Sekiu.

In another e-reg, WDFW announced that the night fishing and retention closures on the lower Wind and White Salmon Rivers were being lifted effective immediately.

Those and other restrictions in the Columbia and its Gorge were put in place due to a weak return of A-run summer steelhead that pull into these thermal refuges. Their passage through the area is typically done by this time of year.

And finally, salmon and steelhead fishing will reopen on the mainstem Columbia up to Highway 395 starting Jan. 1, 2019, WDFW announced.

The big river was closed in late summer when the run of fall Chinook did not materialize in the expected numbers and catches exceeded impacts on Snake River wilds.

As kings made their way further upstream, Washington fishery managers looked for ways to reopen the waters for coho angling.

Nothing ever came to pass, but an explanation appeared in the e-reg resetting the Columbia’s regs to permanent rules:

“… (T)hese fisheries would continue to accrue fall chinook ESA impacts at a time when the non-treaty fisheries do not have additional fall chinook ESA impacts remaining.”

Task Force Makes Key Recommendations For Orcas, Chinook

Significantly increasing Chinook abundance to help out starving orcas is among the recommendations Washington’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force voted to forward to Governor Jay Inslee yesterday.

A PUGET SOUND ADULT CHINOOK SALMON SWIMS THROUGH THE BALLARD LOCKS. (NMFS)

Ron Garner of Puget Sound Anglers said it was a tough go with a lot of pushback from hatchery reformers, but he says a coalition of fishing interests got a recommendation that includes releasing as many as 50 million more smolts than were this year across the finish line.

“Butch Smith from Ilwaco, our tribes, and I pounded and pounded on that and finally got it in. WDFW’s Amy Windrope was key to helping me keeping it in and making sure it was supported by the Task Force. Without the bold statement that we endorse it, we most likely wouldn’t get anything out of it,” PSA’s statewide president said.

The governor and legislature must still buy into and fund Recommendation 6, which says any hatchery increases should be done in concert with habitat improvements, as well as be consistent with ESA constraints and management plans, but the lack of salmon — primarily Chinook — is one of the key reasons the orcas haven’t been doing well in recent years.

In an executive order this past March that also created the task force, Inslee began pushing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to boost production of the salmon stock, and two months ago the agency temporarily closed salmon fishing on the Samish River to allow more broodstock to reach the hatchery.

The 50 million figure comes from the Fish and Wildlife Commission which in late summer expressed support for upping smolt releases from select facilities, 30 million in Puget Sound and 20 million in the Columbia.

Kings in both areas were identified in a joint state-federal study as key feed stocks for the southern residents, and it’s no secret that increasing production would also provide “shirttail benefits” for fishermen.

Tens of millions more used to be released in Puget Sound — 55 million by the state in 1989 alone — and elsewhere in the past, but those have tailed off as runs declined and Endangered Species Act listings and hatchery reforms came into play to try and recover wild returns. The plight of the fish, SRKWs and fishermen of all fleets are intertwined.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND WASHINGTON’S SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE TASK FORCE GATHERED IN PUYALLUP ON TUESDAY TO GO OVER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A FINAL REPORT HEADED TO GOVERNOR INSLEE’S DESK AHEAD OF THE 2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THE MEETING WAS BROADCAST ON TVW, WHERE THIS SCREEN GRAB CAME FROM. (TVW)

Garner said he had to “get way down into the weeds” to show that more than a dozen rivers in Puget Sound were stocked with more than 35 million Green River fall kings by the old Department of Fisheries alone in the 1980s, a figure he says doesn’t account for tribal and federal releases either.

“My point was that there are no wild gene pools left, as this is just one instance as we have been mixing stocks for over 100 years. The tribes backed me up and said our habitat is not going to come back anytime soon and hatcheries are the future until we can fix the millions of people moving into the Puget Sound (region) and losing more habitat,” he said.

“The tribes, WDFW, and a few sporties came together yesterday for a big win for the orcas and fishing!”

Garner was among the members of the task force who met on Election Tuesday in a “fishbowl” format at the state fairgrounds in Puyallup. The meeting was broadcast on TVW.

During the day-long confab and under the guidance of facilitator Susan Gulick, the group made slight tweaks to pinniped recommendations and essentially added more stakeholder process for residents and businesses potentially affected by Snake River dam removal.

Returning Idaho kings are important for orcas as they forage off the Washington Coast, researchers found by studying their doots, the dam-and-lock and hydropower systems an economic lifeline to the Inland Northwest.

A PAIR OF SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES SWIM IN INLAND WATERS. (KATY FOSTER/NOAA FISHERIES)

One of the task force’s most immediately tweetworthy moves was to agree to recommend suspending southern resident killer whale watching for all fleets — commercial, recreational, kayak, rubber dingy, etc., etc., etc. — for the next three to five years.

Disturbance from vessels is another key factor in why orcas are struggling, but a draconian “no-go zone” around the west side of San Juan Island — whether whales were feeding in this critical foraging area or not — has been tabled in favor of a bubble approach.

“There is now going to be a closure around wherever J, K, and L Pods are,” reports Garner. “They will be monitored by WDFW boats and if they come into an area, everyone has to leave. The whale watchers were not happy, but J, K and L are only there 20 percent of the time.”

The recommendation would not affect watchers’ ability to view humpback whales or transient orcas in Puget Sound and elsewhere.

TASK FORCE MEMBERS DISCUSS RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE “FISHBOWL” LATER IN THE DAY YESTERDAY. (TVW)

Next up is for the task force to send the governor its final report, due in mid-November, ahead of 2019’s legislative session, when lawmakers will need to fund many of the measures or enact laws to enforce them.

For WDFW task force member and Region 4 director Amy Windrope, the most important facet of this more than half-year-long process has been that the final recommendations had majority support from a diverse set of stakeholders and that the public turned out and joined the conversation.

And not just Puget Sound, Washington and Northwest residents, but people from as far away as England, Scotland and Germany.

“It was so powerful to hear the public talk about their love of orcas,” Windrope said.

AN ORCA BREACHES IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. (BLM)

Togo, Smackout Packs Now In Crosshairs For Continued Cattle Depredations

The clock is ticking on two more wolf packs in Northeast Washington.

WDFW this morning authorized the lethal removal of the last two members of one pack and one or two from another after continued depredations.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATIONS OF THE TOGO AND SMACKOUT PACKS. THE OLD PROFANITY TERRITORY PACK RUNS TO THE SOUTH OF THE TOGOS. (WDFW)

Both operations can begin tomorrow morning at 8 after an eight-hour waiting period due to a previous court order passes.

With a third pack also in the crosshairs for total removal, in a twist, the kill order for the Togo duo was given to a northern Ferry County livestock producer, his family and employees to carry out if they see the wolves in their private pasture.

WDFW says the OK was given because the previous removal of the breeding male in September didn’t change the pack’s depredating behaviors.

The breeding female and/or a juvenile injured a calf in late October. The pack also is blamed for seven other injured or killed calves and a cow since last November.

The state wildlife management agency has shouldered the burden of removals in the past, but with three lethal operations underway at once, Susewind “decided to issue a permit rather than having department staff conduct the removal because of limitations of resources.”

As WDFW attempts to kill the last two Old Profanity Territory wolves further south in Ferry County, it will also be gunning for the Smackouts to the east in northern Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.

Susewind OKed incremental removals after a fifth attack since Aug. 1 by the pack, all on private pastures.

The latest occurred Nov. 1 and followed three in the last three weeks of October.

An agency statement sent out during Election Night outlined the preventative measures two producers have been using to try and head off trouble with the Smackouts.

It said that WDFW has been pooling resources with ranchers and a local group to protect stock and deter wolves.

“The affected producer has met the expectation in the wolf plan and 2017 protocol for implementing at least two proactive non-lethal deterrents and responsive deterrent measures,” a statement said.

Two wolves in the pack were removed in 2017 following four depredations in a 10-month period, one of two triggers for considering a kill order under WDFW’s protocols. The other is three attacks in a month.

The state says taking out as many as two members of the Smackout Pack, which has four or five adults and no juveniles, is not expected to impact wolf recover in Washington at all. It says that average wolf mortality between 2011 and 2018 has been 11 percent, well below the 28 percent modeled in the management plan adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Still, signing off on a kill order is no easy decision.

“Authorizing the removal of wolves is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my professional career,” said Susewind in a press release out later in the day. “Our department is committed to working with a diversity of people and interests to find new ways to reduce the loss of both wolves and livestock in our state.”

For more details, see WDFW’s Gray Wolf Updates page.

Big Catch, Turnout At 6th King Of The Reach Derby

It took five years for King of the Reach live-capture derby anglers to tally 10 million fertilized salmon eggs collected for a fall Chinook broodstock hatchery program on the mid-Columbia.

A HELPER AT KING OF THE REACH HOLDS A NICE WILD FALL CHINOOK BUCK BROUGHT IN BY ANGLERS DURING THE LIVE-CAPTURE DERBY. (VIA PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW)

The sixth edition could yield that many and change alone, thanks to the “biggest turnout ever for volunteers and fish.”

WDFW fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth says the 648 bucks and 562 hens caught on the Hanford Reach by 277 fishermen in 77 boats and delivered to Grant County’s Priest Rapids Hatchery have the potential to produce 12,616,000 fertilized eggs, if all the male and female fish mixing is done just right.

AN ANGLER HANDS OFF A CHINOOK TO A SHORE ATTENDANT. MORE THAN 1,200 FALL SALMON WERE COLLECTED THIS YEAR, THE MOST EVER. (VIA PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW)

“Basically 100 percent of the Priest Rapids and Ringold Springs Hatchery production for next year’s release would have a wild parent,” Hoffarth says. “Real life, with holding mortality and other factors WDFW might be able to reach 70 percent of production, which is huge.”

He says that not too long ago, just 10 percent of the hatchery kings had at least one wild parent.

THE DERBY SAW GREAT FISHING THE FIRST DAY, WITH SLOWER ACTION THE FOLLOWING TWO DAYS. (VIA PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW)

The derby is a joint state-utility-Coastal Conservation Association of Washington project that uses anglers and guides to collect wild upriver brights in the Reach to improve the stock’s fitness and ensure that hatchery fish remain genetically similar to the natives in the free-flowing stretch of the Columbia.

It occurs after the fall fishing season is closed. Participants are required to register as volunteers, and boat captains need fish transporting permits and a way to haul the salmon to collection points, either in a livewell or a big cooler with a pump.

The previous five derbies saw a total of 2,111 fall kings brought in. Before this year, the most brought in was in 2015 when 510 were taken to the hatchery, according to Hoffarth.

As for the King of the Reach, that’s guide Tyler Stahl who brought in 76 kings.

Fellow guides TJ Hester and John Plugoff turned over 66 and 59, respectively.

On Facebook, CCA-Washington called the derby “nothing short of extraordinary. Loads of fish, tons of people, and fun all around.”

Rob Phillips, a columnist for the Yakima Herald, participated and shared his thoughts.

Southwest Washington Fishing Report (11-5-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

November 5, 2018

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Mainstem from the mouth upstream to McNary Dam

  • From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:
    • Closed to angling for and retention of salmon and steelhead.

IN THIS IMAGE DREDGED OUT OF THE WAY, WAY, WAAAAAY BACK FILE, FALL SALMON ANGLERS FISH THE COWLITZ ABOVE AND BELOW THE MOUTH OF THE TOUTLE FOR COHO. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 18 bank anglers released 5 coho.  1 boat/3 rods had no catch.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 3 bank anglers had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 22 bank rods had no catch.  2 boats/4 rods released 1 chinook.

Above the I-5 Br:  53 bank rods kept 4 coho jacks and released 10 chinook, 4 coho jacks, 1 steelhead and 3 cutthroat.  8 boats/21 rods kept 1 coho and 18 coho jacks.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 935 coho adults, 2,717 coho jacks, 110 fall Chinook adults, 32 fall Chinook jacks, 73 cutthroat trout and 11 summer-run steelhead adults during seven days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 181 coho adults and 428 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 77 coho adults and 214 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 242 coho adults, 1,212 coho jacks, 33 fall Chinook adults, 22 fall Chinook jacks and six cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 227 coho adults and 879 coho jacks into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, Oct. 29. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 54.14 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility

Kalama River – 57 bank anglers kept 2 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 1 coho, 1 steelhead and released 1 chinook, 1 coho and 1 steelhead.

Lewis River – 86 bank rods kept 6 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 2 coho and 2 coho jacks.  15 boats/37 rods kept 1 chinook jack, 7 coho and 4 coho jacks.

East Fork Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River – 46 bank anglers kept 2 chinook, 16 coho, 4 coho jacks and released 4 chinook.

Fishing Rule Changes:

  • Grays River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the mouth of the South Fork:  release all Coho.
  • West Fork Grays River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream:  release all Coho.
  • Cowlitz River:  Until further notice closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the Barrier Dam including all lower Cowlitz tributaries, except the Toutle River.  Until further notice, the closed waters section below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery Barrier Dam is 400’, at the posted markers.
  • Washougal River, including Camas Slough:  Until further notice closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the bridge at Salmon Falls.
  • Toutle River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the moth upstream to the forks:  release all Chinook.
  • North Fork Toutle River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the posted markers below the fish collection facility:  release all Chinook.
  • Wind River:  from the mouth to 400’ below Shepherd Falls, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.
  • Drano Lake: Effective Oct. 17, 2018 until further notice. Closed to all fishing in the waters downstream of markers on a point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of the Highway 14 Bridge.
  • White Salmon River:  from the mouth to the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead

STURGEON

From the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam including adjacent tributaries – Until further notice, white sturgeon open for catch and release fishing only. Fishing for sturgeon at night is closed.

 

WDFW OKs Digs At Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis Late Next Week

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

Razor clam diggers can return to various ocean beaches for a four-day opening beginning Nov. 8.

(JASON BAUER)

State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig on evening low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

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

•  Nov. 8, Thursday, 6:57 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
•  Nov. 9, Friday, 7:36 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
•  Nov. 10, Saturday, 8:15 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
•  Nov. 11, Sunday, 8:56 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers hit the beach about an hour or two before low tide for the best results.

Diggers want to be sure to come prepared with good lighting devices and always keep an eye on the surf, particularly in the fall when the best low tides come after dark, he added.

WDFW has tentatively scheduled another dig for Nov. 22-25, pending results of future toxin tests. More information on planned digs can be found on WDFW’s razor clam webpage athttps://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2018-19 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.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Water Flowing Again Into A Top Public Basin Duck Hunting Area

A popular and productive public-land Columbia Basin duck hunting area is filling up with water for the first time in several years, good news as the best part of the waterfowl season arrives.

WATER FLOWS INTO PONDS AT THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA EARLIER THIS WEEK. (BRIAN HECK, DUCKS UNLIMITED)

The recently completed project at WDFW’s Winchester Regulated Access Area unclogged an inlet from the nearby wasteway west of Potholes Reservoir and water is now flowing into the ponds there.

(CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

“This will be the first time in three or four years that we’ll have a good amount of water,” says the agency’s Sean Dougherty in Ephrata.

The area opened in the early 2000s and provided good hunting but gradually the channel that fed water into the ponds silted up, and during 2016’s opener it was completely dry.

(BRIAN HECK, DUCKS UNLIMITED)

Dougherty says that funds were secured last year, including from state duck stamp moneys, to fix the problem.

After coordinating with the Bureau of Reclamation and the local irrigation district and with help from Ducks Unlimited, which provided “technical support and project management,” he says, water has begun flowing in again.

The area primarily attracts mallards as well as other puddlers as the migration and season goes on, but some geese fly in as well, and access is first come, first served.

“It’s really competitive to get a spot,” says Dougherty. “I would encourage you to be there at 4 a.m.”

That’s when vehicles can begin parking here, and the first five parties of up to four hunters each head out to set up their decoy spreads.

FLOODING IN CELL, OR POND, A. (CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

The area is only open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, with the other days off limits to rest the birds.

It’s also next to a game reserve, which helps keep ducks in the area too.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS CURRENT PARKING AND BLIND LOCATIONS FOR THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA. (WDFW)

Dougherty doesn’t want to make any promises about how many greenheads you might down if you set up here, but says it’s one of the best public hunts, with an average of three ducks a gun in the past.

And with more water here this fall, the ponds might also remain as open water longer, though with their shallow depths, ambitious hunters can still bust through the ice later on.

DUCKS SIT ON A POND AT THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA. (CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

Editor’s note: This blog initially contained an outdated WDFW map of access to the Winchester Regulated Access Area. It has subsequently been updated with a new one from regional lands manager Rich Finger. Also, blinds are not assigned and the area is free roam.