Tag Archives: wdfw

Predators May Be To Blame For Recent Moose Calf Survival Issues In Part of NE WA

Washington wildlife managers looking into how a growing suite of hungry predators are affecting deer, elk and moose populations believe a Shiras subherd in the state’s northeast corner bears watching.

WDFW reports an unusual signal seen in moose calf survival in east-central Stevens and southern Pend Oreille Counties in recent years.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS TWO MOOSE STUDY AREAS, THE NORTHERN ONE OF WHICH SAW LOWER CALF SURVIVAL THAN THE SOUTHERN ONE. (WDFW)

It was lower in back-to-back years than in a study area just to the south and a cause for concern, biologists say.

“Calf-survival in the northern area, particularly during 2014, was low enough to elicit concern for population stability,” note authors Brock Hoenes, Sara Hansen, Richard Harris, and Jerry Nelson in the just-posted Wildlife Program 2015-2017 Ungulate Assessment.

They’re not sure why that is, except to say it’s probable some — maybe all — of the calves in question ended up as dinner and that more study will help flesh that out.

“Calf mortality occurred irregularly, with no discernible seasonal concentration,” they report. “We are unable to attribute specific causes to any of the calf deaths (the study is not designed to attribute specific causes to any of the calf deaths). That said, it is likely that at least some of the calf deaths were caused by predators.”

Among the toothsome crew roaming this country are cougars, black bears, perhaps a grizzly or two, and wolves.

According to WDFW’s latest wolf map, the Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows and Skookum Packs occur entirely or partially in the northern moose study area, and  all of which were successful breeding pairs in 2016. And in the past the Diamond wolves were here too.

A CLOSE-UP OF WDFW’S MARCH 2017 WOLF MAP SHOWS PACK LOCATIONS. THE NORTHERN MOOSE STUDY AREA OVERLAPS ALL OR PORTIONS OF THE DIRTY SHIRT, GOODMAN MEADOWS, CARPENTER RIDGE AND SKOOKUM PACKS. (WDFW)

By contrast, in the southern moose study area — Blanchard Hump and Mt. Spokane — there are no known packs, or at least were at the time of the biologists’ review last December.

Their 186-page report was posted late yesterday afternoon, two days before the state Fish and  Wildlife Commission will be briefed on wolves, wolf management and the future thereof by WDFW Wolf Policy Lead Donny Martorello.

It’s important because buried in the aforementioned wolf plan is a section addressing the species’ impacts on ungulates.

If “at-risk” big game herds such as woodland caribou are found to fall 25 percent below population benchmarks for two straight years or others see their harvests decline by a quarter compared to the 10-year average for two consecutive seasons, it could trigger consideration of reducing local wolf numbers if that particular recovery zone has four or more breeding pairs, regardless of statewide delisting.

As for the assessment of the rest of Washington’s moose, as well as its wapiti, deer and bighorn sheep, the report looks at each species, breaking them down by major herds or zones, details recent hunter harvest, and discusses other sources of mortality and factors that may influence population dynamics, before wrapping up with “Sub-herd Concerns” and “Management Conclusions.”

“Using the data at our disposal, none of the ungulate populations in this assessment appear to show clear signs of being limited by predation,” state Hoenes, Hansen, Harris, and Nelson in the executive summary.

That conclusion may not go over well with some Evergreen State hunters concerned about what their and others’ observations are telling them about how the animals are doing in the woods.

And it’s not to say that bucks and bulls, does and cows, calves and fawns aren’t affected in other ways by mountain lions, bruins, coyotes and wolves. They are, of course.

New research is beginning to show how wolf packs affect mule deer and whitetail behavior in North-central Washington, leading to different use of habitat than before.

The authors also acknowledge that limitations in the data sets “might preclude the ability to detect impacts of predation on a specific ungulate population.”

But the assessment is another way WDFW is attempting to show hunters it is keeping its eye on wolf impacts as numbers of the wild dogs near recovery goals and the conversation begins to turn to post-statewide delisting management.

Biologists will also take to the air and woods again soon for year two of a half-decade-long predator-prey study in the Okanogan, and Huckleberry and Selkirk Ranges.

Skagit-Sauk Steelhead Fishery Proposal Going Out For Public Comment

Steelheaders are a step closer to once again tossing spoons, jigs and more into a pair of famed North Sound rivers during prime time for their brawny wild winter-runs, but there’s still thick brambles and slick cobbles to wade through first.

Tomorrow, federal overseers will put a proposed Skagit-Sauk winter-spring fishery out for a 30-day public comment period.

IMAGES FROM A TRIP IN SEARCH OF EARLY SAUK WINTER STEELHEAD ON THE LAST JANUARY 2017 WEEKEND THE RIVER WAS OPEN FOR FISHING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Yet even if OKed for this coming season, the rub for sport anglers will be whether state funding is found to monitor fishing over Puget Sound’s strongest, yet still ESA-listed stock.

The rivers are otherwise scheduled to again close at the end of January.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Recent years have certainly seen enough winter steelhead in the system that alone accounts for 38 percent of the inland sea’s overall production.

Springs 2013, ’14 and ’15 saw an average of 8,800 hit the gravel on the upper Skagit and Sauk Rivers and their tribs.

That’s a 350 percent increase over 2009’s woeful return and well above the average for the 25 years between 1980 and 2004. (The 2018 forecast isn’t out yet.)

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

And support has been building since Occupy Skagit held its first hookless fish-in at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in April 2013.

That was the year after the last time the rivers were scheduled to be open as the cottonwoods budded, grouse drummed and skunk cabbages bloomed, but four springs after it actually was due to emergency rule changes.

Opening the water would put anglers back on a once-proud system where the only viable opportunity of late has been plunking for sockeye due to critically low pink and coho salmon runs and the end of hatchery steelhead releases.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

But just as WDFW is required by its NMFS permit to do on fisheries it holds on the Methow and a host of Columbia Basin waters over federally protected runs, it must track angler effort and catches on the Skagit and Sauk.

The agency’s Wild Futures fee-increase bid this year would have paid for that.

Some steelheaders strongly urged others to support it.

But it got snagged by fellow sportsmen and Senate-side state lawmakers during the legislative session.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

So now, with other projects competing for the same scarce dollars, WDFW managers are struggling to rationalize spending, let alone come up with the estimated $110,000 needed to perform creel sampling from Concrete to Rockport on the Skagit, and from Rockport to Darrington on the Sauk.

Some are optimistic; some are pessimistic.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

As it stands, under the plan now out for review and submitted by WDFW and the Sauk-Suiattle, Swinomish and Upper Skagit Tribes, as well as the Skagit River System Cooperative, sport fishing could open as early as February and run through April 30, depending on run forecasts.

Late winter and early to midspring are the best times to get after wild steelhead with pink worms, double-stacked spoons, flashy plugs and flies.

Retention of them is even possible, but would require the Fish and Wildlife Commission to amend the regulations.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Tribal harvest could occur from Dec. 1 to April 15.

A range of 40 to 457 wild steelhead were taken annually during test and other netting this millennium, according to the plan.

Proposed overall sport and tribal impacts range from 4 percent at run sizes of less than 4,000 to 25 percent at returns greater than 8,000.

“While we recognize that substantial improvements to enhance the productivity and protection of habitat are necessary to ensure the long-term viability of Skagit steelhead populations, the assessments presented in this plan indicate that a low level of fishery mortality is consistent with the survival and recovery of the Puget Sound DPS,” the authors argue.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I appreciate that WDFW and the tribes worked together on the proposal, and hats off to NMFS for getting it out for comment. This is a really important fishery to start up again.

Best case scenario is that commenters don’t find faults, the state does locate money to sample anglers, and the tribes get their share of fish.

Worst case scenario is that it’s approved, the state doesn’t find the money, the tribes get their share of fish, and anglers are stuck on the bank.

Comments on the plan when it comes out can be sent to James Dixon, NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division, 510 Desmond Drive, Suite 103, Lacey, WA 98503 or skagit-steelhead-harvest-plan.wcr@noaa.gov with “Comments on Skagit River Steelhead Harvest Plan” in the subject line.

TILL THE SAUK AND SKAGIT ARE REOPENED IN FEBRUARY, MARCH AND APRIL, ANGLERS WILL HAVE TO MAKE DO WITH THE OCCASIONAL EARLY WINTER STEELHEAD AND PLENTIFUL BULL TROUT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW, Tribes Send NMFS Updated 10-year Harvest Plan For Sound Chinook

State and tribal salmon comanagers have posted a new 10-year management plan to guide harvest and conservation of ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook and which could reduce the risk of North of Falcon-related delays, but also may mean less fish to catch in bad years.

It updates a plan that expired in 2014 but also must be approved by federal overseers before it goes into effect for the 2019-20 to 2028-29 fishing seasons.

WDFW AND 17 PUGET SOUND TRIBES’ 10-YEAR MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR PUGET SOUND CHINOOK HAS BEEN SENT TO FEDERAL OVERSEERS FOR APPROVAL. IT WILL COVER FISHERIES SUCH AS POSSESSION BAR, WHERE ALLISON HARVEY CAUGHT THIS 19.5-POUNDER THIS PAST SUMMER ON HERRING AIDE KINGFISHER BEHIND A GIBBS RED RACER FLASHER. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Written by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and 17 tribes under a confidential, court-mediated negotiation process this year, the plan is meant to “refine the management of state and tribal fisheries to better support efforts to conserve and recover wild Puget Sound Chinook salmon stocks, whose numbers have continued to significantly decline since they were listed for protection in 1999,” according to a summary posted by the state agency.

WDFW also warns of “reductions to state and tribal fisheries in Washington, especially in years with expected low salmon returns. For example, increased protections for wild Chinook salmon returning to the Stillaguamish and Snohomish Rivers will likely further restrict numerous fisheries because those fish are caught in many areas of Puget Sound.”

The 338-page plan includes data on where and who catches kings bound for the inland sea’s rivers — some of those Stilly fish are actually landed in Alaska — as well as exploitation rates, low abundance thresholds and points of instability for each stock.

It says the abundance of the region’s Chinook is “constrained by habitat conditions,” and their recovery is “primarily dependent on restoration of” functioning habitat.

It only makes the briefest mention of marine mammal predation, which may be masking recovery as pinniped populations increase, according to a recent paper. And as for increasing hatchery production of Chinook, that’s not specifically addressed, but it should be noted the plan is subheaded “Harvest Management Component.” More on that front may be ahead in the near future.

Along with WDFW, the coauthors include the Lummi, Nooksack, Swinomish, Upper Skagit, Sauk-Suiattle, Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Puyallup, Nisqually, Squaxin Island, Skokomish, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, and Makah Tribes.

The plan will be reviewed by the National Marine Fisheries Service through April 2019, but according to WDFW, state and tribal comanagers will use its framework during next year’s North of Falcon negotiations.

The agency says having it in place “would reduce the risk of having to cancel or delay state salmon fisheries in Puget Sound due to the uncertainty of an annual federal review” like we saw in spring 2015 and which led to a late start to sport seasons in the salt and rivers and even affected bass fisheries on Lakes Washington and Sammamish.

Grinches Illegally Netting Chums Get Coal, And A Trip To Jail

If your house is anything like mine, there’s been plenty of Christmas cheer of late as the lights and tree go up, advent calendars start yielding goodies, and Bing and Harry get us in the spirit of the season.

The folks at WDFW’s Enforcement Division are also feeling it, and today posted news of yet another case of illegal netting, this time roughly set to The Night Before Christmas.

To wit:

T’was a typical day for Officer Jewett on patrol, but his peek under the bridge wasn’t for trolls

Skookum Creek isn’t much of a creek, but it attracts its share of wrongdoing creeps

(WDFW)

When he noticed a car parked alongside of the road, he sensed numerous violations of fishing codes

“Not today!” the officer thought, as he set out sneakily for the poachers to be caught

He watched the two robbers under Kamilche Lane; For unlawful netting, these two were to blame

After seeing plenty they were put into cuffs, t’was the least of their problems – they had other bad stuff

With felony warrants for their arrest, accommodations in jail seemed for the best.

Happy Holidays from Fish and Wildlife Police!

Indeed, happy holidays, officers – and keep up the great work!

WDFW Gets 933 Comments On Freshwater Reg Simplification Ideas

Simplifying Washington’s fishing pamphlet might not be so simple.

When state fishery managers asked for feedback on their first round of proposals — making lake and river regulations more uniform and easier to understand — they snagged a ton of comments, 933 to be exact.

Everybody had an opinion. Many were for the tweaks, many others were against them.

(Who knows how many comments the agency will get when they tackle salmon and saltwater rules in the coming years.)

It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t deal.

With fishery managers acknowledging that their regs “are complex and can be difficult to follow” — it’s been stated by more than one angler they need an attorney by their side to interpret things — the review represents an effort to make them more user-friendly, which I think we can all appreciate, even if it also flies in the face of what anglers also want: rules tailored to their specific fishery or style of fishing.

With this go-around, just four subjects accounted for more than half of all the comments, with eliminating special limits on panfish at select lakes receiving a griddle-sized 29.1 percent, mostly against.

According to a presentation prepared for a public hearing before the Fish and Wildlife Commission at its meeting next week, 247 of 272 who expressed opinions on the idea were opposed.

Many said that reservoirs such as Banks, Potholes and Moses should be excluded and that species like crappie and bluegill would be wiped out and other fish species would also lose out on dinner, according to the WDFW summary.

“Numerous eastern Washington resorts, sport fishing clubs, local guides, and warmwater anglers have expressed concerns over eliminating bag limits on major waters,” the agency stated.

A proposal to allow chumming on all waters also saw strong opposition, with 59 shooting holes in the chum bucket while 31 filled it up.

“This is a bad idea and will lead to unnecessary overfishing and collateral damage to other species,” one cogent argument went, according to the agency.

On the flip side, others said, “I am in favor of being able to chum, and don’t think it has any negative impact on the water quality,” and “I believe it increases opportunity for anglers, especially when pursuing stocked trout.”

Another proposal that saw strong negative response was scrapping the requirement that trout caught with bait but released be counted towards the daily limit of five.

Forty-six bonked the idea, arguing, “Bait should not be considered acceptable for catch-and-release situations,” while 23 want it added to their stringer, saying it “Would allow more flexibility and opportunity for anglers” and “This rule was always unenforceable anyway.”

But the tape measure had to come out for several subjects with much closer splits among commenters:

Removing duplicate landowner rules had nine comments for (“If these restrictions are not set by the department then they should not be listed in the pamphlet”) and nine comments against (“The rules set by the landowners or managing authorities may not be readily available or easily known”).

Different daily and size limits for steelhead and trout had 21 comments for (“Separating steelhead from trout should make reading and understanding the fishing regulations much easier” and 19 comments against (“Allowing retention of ‘trout’ in waters containing steelhead would pose another unnecessary risk to steelhead populations).

Standardized seasons and regs for stillwaters had 30 comments for (“Fewer rules, and the fewer exceptions, avoids confusing anglers”) and 26 comments against (“Why not simply reduce to a year-round season in some fisheries and a March 1st (or last Saturday in April) through November 30th season?”).

As for standardized regs for rivers and creeks, it had support from 27 (“Simple is better, when exploring a new water having to remember a whole new set of rules is a burden”) but opposition from 35 (“The current approach of having waters closed unless listed as open is the best approach. Puts a number of species of conservation concern at risk”), especially bass and walleye clubs worried about dropping daily and size limits.

However, there were some proposals nearly everybody could admire, such as:

Standardizing whitefish season to Dec. 1-last day in Feb. (18-1);
Standardizing language for juvenile waters to allow seniors and disabled anglers (15-1);
Consistent terminology for possession limits (26-5);
Eliminating daily and size limits on brook trout (30-6);
Retention of incidentally caught hatchery steelhead (23-5);
Ending mandatory hatchery steelhead retention (34-10);
And opening game fish season in rivers, streams and beaver ponds from the start of Memorial Day Weekend through Halloween (25-9).

After the Dec. 9 public hearing in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building on the grounds of the state capital complex, the Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to make final decisions at its Jan. 18-20 meetings in Vancouver, with any changes they make coming out in the new pamphlet that goes into effect July 1, 2018.

Next up in WDFW’s rule simplification drive will be salmon, followed by shellfish and saltwater species in 2019.

Middle Methow Won’t Open For Whitefish On Dec. 1

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

Whitefish fishing will close in lower section of Methow River

Action: Close fishing in the Methow River from Gold Creek to the Twisp River.

TO PROTECT A LOW RUN OF METHOW STEELHEAD, LIKE THIS ONE JOHN BRACE CAUGHT ON THE RIVER SEVERAL SEASONS BACK, WDFW IS CLOSING WATERS BETWEEN GOLD CREEK AND THE TWISP RIVER FOR WHITEFISH TO REDUCE THE ODDS OF INCIDENTAL HOOK-UPS WITH STEELHEAD. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Dates: Dec. 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018

Species affected: Whitefish

Reason for action: Allowable impacts to steelhead listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in the upper Columbia River are very low. The whitefish season in the Methow River from Gold Creek to the Twisp River has a high steelhead encounter rate. Closing this section of the Methow River will protect listed steelhead and provide greater assurance the other whitefish seasons will remain open as long as possible.

Other information: The whitefish seasons in the Methow (from Twisp River to Foghorn Dam and from the Weeman Bridge to the falls at Brush Creek) will open Dec. 1 as scheduled, as will those on the Similkameen, Chewuch, and Entiat rivers and Sinlahekin Creek. Those seasons are described in the current Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet.

WDFW will monitor those fisheries closely, and may close additional seasons if federal impact levels on listed steelhead are reached. Anglers are advised to check the WDFW website (https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/) for new emergency regulations before going fishing.

Wardens Have ‘Multiple Leads’ On Moose Poached Near Lake Wenatchee

Word that a moose was poached, had its head chopped off and was mostly wasted in Chelan County earlier this fall enraged many on Facebook, and they shared the call for tips widely, helping game wardens searching for whomever illegally killed the locally rare big game animal.

“We are currently following up on multiple leads obtained by hunters and citizens that were in the area around the time of the poaching,” says WDFW Officer Blake Tucker today. “We have had quite a bit of help from the public, which is what is going to get this case solved.”

As a hunter, I know it’s the health of the herd that matters the most, not so much the individual animal, and that critters at the edge of their range are naturally few and far between. But this one particularly galls me.

Though there’s not a hunting season here now, one day we’ll be able to put in for a bull permit or two, yet the illegal kill north of Lake Wenatchee may have pushed that further out into the future.

This is one of two main areas of Central Washington where moose are moving to from the core of their range in the state’s northeast corner, where 178 tags were available for this year.

A WDFW map shows a number of citizen observations in the upper Wenatchee River watershed just last year.

WDFW’S MOOSE OBSERVATION MAP SHOWS THE LOCATIONS OF 329 PUBLIC REPORTS IN 2016, 320 OF WHICH CORRESPOND WITH SIGHTINGS OF ACTUAL MOOSE. THE OTHER NINE REPORTS WERE NONSIGHTINGS, IMPORTANT DATA TO ALSO COLLECT TO BETTER DETERMINE POPULATIONS. (WDFW)

It was here that a decade or more ago I first heard of moose in the area: One of my dad’s old coworkers, Neil B., talked about seeing one up the Chiwawa.

That was a sign, it turned out. Moose are not unlike wolves in that young ones tend to disperse in search of good habitat, and they appear to be finding it — and one another.

In 2013, reader Mike Quinn, who hunts this part of the state, began telling me about moose he’d been spotting then capturing on trail cameras.

CHELAN COUNTY BULL MOOSE. (MIKE QUINN/FLICKR.COM)

Subsequent images from Quinn’s cams captured a couple little moose trains moving through the woods — in a 2014 photo, a cow and its bull calf followed by an adult bull, and in a 2016 shot, a cow and two calves.

The moose that was poached earlier this fall — its carcass was found about 50 yards off a logging road in the Meadow Creek area with only the head and a bit of meat taken — may or may not have been one of those animals. It’s a loss to a budding population either way.

IMAGES FROM THE SCENE WHERE A MOOSE WAS POACHED NEAR LAKE WENATCHEE EARLIER THIS FALL. (WDFW)

(WDFW

The aforementioned WDFW map is part of a two-page synopsis of the agency’s public moose survey program for last year, which suggests a high calf:cow ratio among those colonizing the eastern slopes of the North Cascades.

According to extrapolated data from 20 observations in Okanogan County — to the north of Chelan County — one could expect 83 calves per 100 cows there.

Admittedly, the sample size is small, and state wildlife biologists, aided by aircraft and tracking snow on the ground, might come up with a different ratio.

But for what it’s worth, that figure is four times as high as citizen reports for Pend Oreille County, where moose began filtering into the state in the 1950s and where the first few tags were offered in the 1970s.

If they’re that fecund in Okanogan County, it seems probable that those in Chelan County might be doing similarly well — possibly better with one less predator currently in the portfolio.

While Alces alces is often photographed belly deep in ponds, those in this part of the state are actually benefiting from changes on dry land.

The large-scale wildfires of recent decades “have improved moose habitat,” says WDFW, and that’s included the eruption of willows and other browse across blaze-scarred landscapes.

Last month, as we pulled a mule deer buck out of an area that has seen two major fires, there on the ground were the telltale round doots of a moose. A friend found the first such pellets not far away several years ago.

While moose numbers are clearly growing, it’s unknown how many are actually in Chelan and Okanogan Counties. Ironically, biologists need more data from people who don’t actually see any to get a better idea of how many there might be.

“To obtain accurate data, we need more dedicated participants who will not only submit a report when they see a moose, but also report hours afield when they do not see any moose. For example, if you plan to deer hunt for four consecutive days, submit a report for each day you are hunting, whether you see a moose or not,” says WDFW’s moose man, Jared Oyster, in the annual survey report for 2016.

Year-over-year trends are helpful, but knowing how many bulls, cows and calves are in the area will go a long way towards setting up a limited hunt once a big enough herd has established itself.

Unfortunately, there’s now one fewer moose around Lake Wenatchee because some jackass or jackasses poached it, stealing the future from legitimate hunters.

Anyone with information on the case can contact WDFW’s regional office at (509) 662-0452 and ask for Officer Tucker.

Whomever’s guilty faces as much as $9,000 in fines and penalties and up to a year in jail.

Rainbow Fishing Good, About To Get Better On Black Friday

“The trout bite is heating up like a frozen turkey dropped into the fryer.”

So reported angler Jerry Han of the Tri-Cities area following an outing on a “local lake” in Central Washington last weekend.

He didn’t share GPS coordinates of said pond, but if we had to bet, we’d put whole pots full of Thanksgiving Day leftovers on it being a well-known water north of his Kennewick dental practice.

Han was accompanied by friend Rick Beery, a “self-professed fly guy,” who reportedly “made some interesting gagging sounds” when directed to bring along some nightcrawlers to bait up sons Paul and Joseph’s lures.

RICK BEERY AND SONS PAUL AND JOSEPH SHOW OFF A REAL NICE CENTRAL WASHINGTON RAINBOW CAUGHT LAST WEEKEND WITH JERRY HAN. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Their trolling programs included Wedding Rings behind dodgers, as well as Berkley Flicker Minnows.

“Good action, but we had to work for them,” notes Han.

They caught at least four nice-sized trout, including one that may have helped out with bug boy Beery’s gag-reflex issues.

“Apparently catching a 23-inch rainbow magically clears up that illness,” Dr. Han reports.

THAT AIN’T A CARTON OF SAN JUAN WORMS IN FLYRODDER BEERY’S LEFT HAND! NIGHTCRAWLERS ACCOUNTED FOR HIS HEFTY RAINBOW. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Elsewhere in Washington, if you’re able to waddle out of the house on Black Friday, tons of trout are awaiting anglers. WDFW announced earlier this month it will have stocked these lakes for post-Thanksgiving fishing:

  • Battle Ground Lake (2,000) and Klineline Pond (2,000) in Clark County
  • Kress Lake (2,000) in Cowlitz County
  • Fort Borst Park Pond (2,000) and South Lewis County Park Pond (2,000) in Lewis County
  • American (2,500) and Tanwax (1,000) Lakes in Pierce County
  • Rowland Lake (2,000) in Klickitat County
  • Black (3,000), Long (1,000) and Offutt (1,000) Lakes in Thurston County
  • Elton Pond North (2,000) in Yakima County

Missing from this list but also recently stocked is Beaver Lake in Sammamish, which got another 700 broodstockers.

While several of the above lakes are closed until Friday, Beaver’s open now.

For more rainbow releases, go here.

Razor Clam Digs Set For Dec. 1-4 At Varying Washington Beaches

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

Razor clam diggers will have the opportunity to fill their limits during a four-day dig beginning Dec. 1 on various ocean beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the Dec. 1-4 dig on evening tides after marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed before noon.

RAZOR CLAMMERS WORK THE BEACH DURING AN EARLY 2010 SEASON. (JASON BAUER)

Some areas have a mix of both large and small razor clams. Diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig, regardless of size or conditions, to avoid wasting clams, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.

Diggers should also remember to bring a lantern for the digs with later low tides, Ayres said. The best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide.

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

Dec. 1, Friday, 4:42 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Copalis

Dec. 2, Saturday, 5:29 p.m.; -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Dec. 3, Sunday, 6:15 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

Dec. 4, Monday, 7:02 p.m.; -1.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

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.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

WDFW has tentatively scheduled another dig for Dec. 31. In the coming weeks, the department also will announce planned digs for January and February, Ayres said.

For more information about recreational razor clamming, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

Montana Added To WDFW’s CWD State List

Even as Washington hunters fill Facebook with pictures of their trophy Montana bucks, WDFW this morning listed the Treasure State as a chronic wasting disease state, a move that impacts what parts of big game can be brought back west.

According to a note from the agency’s Wildlife Program, the emergency rule affects free-ranging mule deer, whitetails, elk and moose.

A RECENTLY UPDATED USGS NATIONAL WILDLIFE HEALTH CENTER MAP SHOWS A PORTION OF SOUTHCENTRAL MONTANA NOW AFFECTED BY THE SPREAD OF CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE IN WILD UNGULATES. (USGS)

To reduce the risk of spreading CWD, which was confirmed in a southcentral Montana muley recently, it means hunters can only bring back these items, according to WDFW:

Meat that has been deboned in the state or province where it was harvested and is imported as boned-out meat.

Skulls and antlers, antlers attached to the skull plate, or upper canine teeth (bugler, whistlers, ivories) from which all soft tissue has been removed.

Hides or capes without heads attached.

Tissue imported for use by a diagnostic or research laboratory.

Finished taxidermy mounts.

Those are the same rules that are in effect for 20 other states and two Canadian provinces, which include Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, and Albert and Saskatchewan.

Last week, an Oregon, man was cited for failure to follow import restrictions after bringing the carcass of a relative’s Montana buck — the one confirmed with CWD — to Madras.

WDFW says that it’s been testing Washington deer species for more than 20 years and has yet to detect CWD.

“We urge hunters to help us maintain our healthy deer, elk, and moose populations by complying with the restrictions outlined above. For more information regarding CWD, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/cwd/,“: the agency stated.