Tag Archives: wdfw

New WA Fish-Hunt Licenses Required Starting Saturday; Same Price As Last Year

The bad news is, your Washington fishing and hunting licenses are just about to expire.

The good news is, the Legislature is still a long way from passing a fee increase — let alone a budget authorizing one — if they do at all.

So for the time being, you’ll pay the same prices as last year to hunt, fish, crab, etc., etc., etc., in the Evergreen State during the 2017-18 seasons — and you won’t have to buy salmon, steelhead, halibut and sturgeon catch cards either.

While Oregon’s and Idaho’s license years begin January 1, Washington’s kicks off April 1, just as spring Chinook fishing begins to pick up along the Lower Columbia and its tribs, a slate of trout openers hit the Basin, and turkey season kicks off across the state.

Peter Vernie, who heads up WDFW’s Licensing Division, says that 2016-17 license prices will be honored until the new state budget goes into effect.

That’s slated for July 1, but also dependent on lawmakers agreeing on how to fund Washington’s government, and there are sharp differences between how the Republican Senate and Democratic House want to do that.

The two chambers of the legislature also have differing views on WDFW’s fee increase proposal, with the Senate not including it in their operating budget for the agency while the House has it.

Whether lawmakers can sort out their differences on the fee increase and overall state budget before a special session is required remains to be seen.

For now, you don’t have to worry about paying more to fish and hunt in Washington.

But you will need a new license to do both starting Saturday in the Evergreen State.

Editor’s note, March 29, 2017, 2:27 p.m.: An earlier version of this blog misspelled Mr. Vernie’s last name. Our apologies.

FDR’s Sanpoil Arm To Remain Closed Till June, WDFW Reminds

Editor’s note, March 30, 2017, 2:30 p.m.: WDFW emergency rule-change notice tacked on at bottom

WDFW is reminding anglers that due to changing regs, the Sanpoil Arm of Lake Roosevelt won’t open this Saturday.

The fishing pamphlet has the drowned mouth of the Ferry County river opening April 1, but with a Fish and Wildlife Commission decision last December, it’s been moved back to June 1 starting this season.

WITH LAKE ROOSEVELT’S TROUT FISHERY DRAWING INCREASING INTEREST, MANAGERS HAVE MOVED TO PROTECT THE RESERVOIR’S REDBAND RAINBOWS, INCLUDING CLOSING A LARGE BAY WHERE THE TROUT GATHER TO MAKE SPRING SPAWNING RUNS. THIS STRINGER OF RAINBOWS WAS PUT TOGETHER SEVERAL WINTERS AGO BY DYLAN AND GARRETT, GRANDSONS OF READER CHARLIE HISSOM. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

That may disappoint walleye fishermen, but it was part of a set of tweaks to the rules to protect native redband rainbows in the 150-mile-long Northeast Washington reservoir.

With increasing interest in FDR’s superb trout and kokanee fisheries, state and tribal managers were concerned that with redbands already accounted for one-fifth of the rainbow harvest, according to WDFW.

The Sanpoil River is one of the spawning grounds of the unique strain of inland rainbows.

Other changes adopted last December include releasing all trout without a clipped adipose fin from Grand Coulee Dam up to the Little Dalles powerlines, but an end to the maximum number of rainbows that can be over 20 inches.

The agency stocks three-quarters of a million fin-clipped trout to support the harvest fishery on the reservoir.

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

Updates fishing rules for Lake Roosevelt,

Spokane and Sanpoil arms

Action: Updates fishing regulations in the 2016-17 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for Lake Roosevelt and the Spokane and Sanpoil Arms of the 150-mile reservoir to protect wild native redband rainbow trout.

The correct fishing regulations include:

  • Sanpoil Arm (listed as Sanpoil River in the pamphlet): The Sanpoil Arm opens to fishing June 1, instead of April 1.
  • Lake Roosevelt from Grand Coulee Dam to the Little Dalles power line crossing, Spokane Arm and Sanpoil Arm: Only hatchery-produced trout, marked with a clipped adipose fin, can be retained. The daily catch limit is still five trout, not including kokanee. But there is no longer a limit on how many of those fish can exceed 20 inches, as is currently indicated in the WDFW fishing rules pamphlet.
  • Little Dalles power line crossing to the Canadian border: The daily catch limit is now only two trout (marked hatchery or unmarked wild), with a minimum size of 18 inches.

For the complete rule changes, see “Corrections to the pamphlet,” posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01818/2016_fishing_regulation_errata.pdf.

Reason for action: The 2016-17 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet does not reflect fishing rule changes that took effect in December 2016. Those changes, approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, are intended to further protect redband rainbow trout at Lake Roosevelt, a Columbia River reservoir in northeast Washington. Redband trout are a subspecies of rainbow trout found in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Information Contact: Chris Donley, Regional Fish Program Manager, (509) 892-1001, ext. 307.

Columbia, SW WA Fishing Report (3-29-17)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Lower Columbia mainstem sport update – March 26

Last week, anglers on the lower Columbia made 2,024 trips and caught 11 spring Chinook and 19 steelhead.  Through March 26, anglers have made 8,305 trips and caught 59 adult spring Chinook (53 kept and six released) and 52 steelhead (14 kept and 38 released).

DESPITE POOR FISHING CONDITIONS, SCOTT DUNBAR CAUGHT THIS NICE SPRING CHINOOK OUT OF THE COLUMBIA LAST WEEK. HE WAS FISHING WITH GUIDE BRANDON GLASS. (BRANDON GLASS VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (3/19) flight, 146 salmonid boats and 86 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Columbia River estuary to Bonneville Dam.  Catch rates remain low despite the increase in effort.

Gorge Bank: No report.

Gorge Boats: No report.

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for 18 boats (37 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for 38 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for 39 boats (85 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for 10 boats (17 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia River (below Bonneville Dam): Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed no catch for six bank anglers; and no catch for two boats (three anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 21 sublegal and one oversize sturgeon released for 37 bank anglers; and three sublegal and two oversize sturgeon released for seven boats (14 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for 12 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus three sublegal and one oversize sturgeon released for three boats (11 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Weekly checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 11 sublegal sturgeon released for 25 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus eight sublegal and six oversize sturgeon released for 10 boats (23 anglers).

WALLEYE

Troutdale:  No report.

Bonneville Pool:  Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

The Dalles Pool:  Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler; and 222 walleye kept, plus 69 walleye released for 27 boats (66 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 35 walleye kept, plus 66 walleye released for 41 boats (78 anglers).

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 130 bank anglers kept 3 adult spring Chinook, 19 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.  115 boat anglers kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 41 steelhead.  Fish are being caught throughout the river with the trout hatchery area best for steelhead, especially for boat anglers.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 149 winter-run steelhead adults, two steelhead jacks and 13 spring Chinook adults and one cutthroat trout in five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 18 winter-run steelhead adults and nine spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek.

Last week, Tacoma employees released ten winter-run steelhead adults, two steelhead jacks and one cutthroat trout into the Tilton River located at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 14,600 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 27. Water visibility is five feet and water temperature is 42.8 F.

Drano Lake – 4 bank anglers released 4 sublegal sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Two lucky anglers out of the 352 sampled (including 88 boats) are eating fresh spring Chinook.  One fish was a lower river stock and the other upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).  Bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Joint Staff recommends a Joint State hearing to discuss the lower Columbia mainstem sport fishery be scheduled for April 5, 2017.

Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam – Light effort and no catch.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Light effort.

Bonneville Pool – Until further notice, closed for retention.

The Dalles Pool – Closed for retention through the end of the year.

John Day Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some legals.  Boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 8 rods last week.  Tomorrow (Wednesday March 30) is the last day sturgeon may be retained for the year.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – No effort was observed for either specie.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged 1.7 walleye kept/released per rod.  No effort was observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged just under 0.4 walleye per rod.  A couple bass were also caught.

Trout

Recent plants of catchable size rainbows into SW WA waters.  No report on angling success.

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

* KLINELINE PD (CLAR)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=KLINELINE%20PD%20(CLAR)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 20, 2017
Rainbow
1,500
2.2
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

* LK SACAJAWEA (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK%20SACAJAWEA%20(COWL)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 20, 2017
Rainbow
3,083
2.4
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

* SWOFFORD PD (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=SWOFFORD%20PD%20(LEWI)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 16, 2017
Rainbow
4,200
2.1
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

Hatchery Coho OKed For Retention On Sammamish

Anglers will be able to keep hatchery coho they catch in Lake Sammamish, smolts that apparently decided against going to sea in 2016.

WDFW put out an emergency rule-change notice early this afternoon allowing the retention of fin-clipped silvers under landlocked salmon rules.

 

That means they count towards your trout limit.

Minimum size is 12 inches, and the regulation stays in effect through May 31.

Kokanee and Chinook must be released.

According to biologist Aaron Bosworth, the residualized coho are believed to have been from last year’s release.

He says he’s not sure why they didn’t head for the ocean, but it’s happened in the past, he’s heard.

Cutting an e-reg allows anglers to legally remove them from the lake, Bosworth says.

Washington Legislators Put Out WDFW Budget Proposals, With, Without Fee Hikes

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fee hike proposal is still in play in Olympia.

While last week’s proposed operating budget from Senate Republicans pointedly left out the agency’s request for fishing and hunting license increases, the Democratic House’s spending plan released yesterday has them in there.

SPRING CHINOOK ANGLERS TROLL THE COLUMBIA BELOW WASHINGTON’S BEACON ROCK LAST SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Now, whether you end up paying more to hunt, fish, crab, etc., in the Evergreen State in the future depends on leaders in both chambers of the legislature agreeing to a final budget with that element and Governor Inslee signing it into law by this time next month, or later if a special session is required..

Odds of that?

Hard to say at this juncture, and the Olympia Outsider is notoriously bad at predicting the legislature.

But as it stands, the House’s budget for July 2017-June 2019 includes $22.7 million to maintain and increase fishing opportunities and $5.4 million for enhanced hunting ops, both paid for through higher fees for licenses, tags, endorsements, catch cards, etc.

Those are not hard and fast numbers; they’re more like placeholders based on the governor’s original budget and House Bill 1647, which had a hearing early last month, then was sent out to fishing and hunting groups to be “right-sized.”

An internal WDFW memo circulated last night comparing the two budget proposals side by side says that “reaching agreement with stakeholders and the legislature on moving revenue legislation towards adoption will be very important over the next few weeks.”

Firmer numbers can be found elsewhere in the House proposal. It includes $3.1 million for better IT security on WDFW’s website. There’s also money for better steelhead management and support for fish habitat projects, but not for a steelhead mortality study.

It also reduces funding for pheasant and warmwater programs due to shortfalls and decreased license sales, as does the Senate’s budget.

Both chambers would give WDFW a bump over the last two-year spending plan, with the House allocating $449 million, the Senate $416 milllion, increases of 8.3 and .6 percent, according to the agency.

WDFW reports the main difference between the two chambers’ bottom line is largely due to four pieces of agency-request legislation addressing rec and commercial fees, the hydraulic permit approval process and aquatic invasive species management that are included in the House version but not the Senate proposal.

The House would provide almost $2.3 million more to improve HPA processing and a bump of nearly $1.3 million to prevent more bad things from gaining a foothold in our waters.

Highlights from the Senate budget include $5 million from the General Fund to “protect hatcheries and core agency functions,” as a press release from Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) put it.

That money would come with a caveat — a review of WDFW’s management and organization.

Pearson, chair of the Natural Resources and Parks Committee, which deals with many fish and wildlife issues, has been critical of the agency, especially its leadership, including on hoof rot in elk, the disappearance of at least a couple hundred thousand Cowlitz River summer steelhead smolts, and the fee hike proposal.

He says that “(dwindling) fish populations, diseased and scattered wildlife and animal conflict problems have set back the WDFW’s mission over the past few years” but that the Senate budget has the “the tools” needed to “protect and grow hunting and fishing opportunities both now and in the future.”

The Senate budget does include $1.5 million for continued funding of nonlethal depredation prevention work and the agency’s Wolf Advisory Group, about $200,000 more than the House would.

And it increases payments in lieu of taxes to counties for WDFW-owned land, as well as proposes a much higher level than the House budget does, $1.6 million a year compared to $580,000.

Next up will be for both chambers to pass their own budget bills, then negotiate out the differences in a conference committee. That could be challenging, given the $32 million difference between House and Senate proposals.

The regular session is scheduled to wrap up April 23, but may go into overtime if an overall agreement on the budget for the state isn’t reached in time.

Columbia Concurrency Still In Question After Oregon Vote

UPDATED WITH QUOTES FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF NORTHWEST STEELHEADERS AND THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commissioners voted to adjust their Columbia salmon allocation reforms closer to Washington’s position but not all the way there, leaving sportfishing interests angered and concurrency of regulations on the big river in question.

The unanimous move came after four hours of public input and about an hour of deliberations by the citizen panel that oversees the state’s fish and wildlife.

On the most contentious issue, Oregon moved to a 70-30 sport-commercial split on Snake River fall Chinook impacts, up from 66-34 but shy of the Washington commission’s 75-25 compromise.

A plan agreed to between the states in 2012-13 had slated those to be 80-20 beginning this season, as well as the full removal of gillnets from the mainstem Columbia.

But tonight’s vote would leave them in below Bonneville during fall without a timeline for ending the practice, though 2 percent of the commercial allocation was moved toward the use of alternative gear, as well as allow the use of tangle, or small-mesh, gillnets during certain fisheries.

Impacts are allowable mortalities on ESA-listed stocks to prosecute sport and commercial seasons and represent slivers of runs.

The vote angered anglers, who feel that a promise is not being fulfilled on the Oregon end.

“I’ve never seen a commission step out to deliberately harm the sportfishing community,” said Bob Rees of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, pointing to moves to make sure unutilized commercial spring and summer impacts would not get used by the sportfishing fleet.

Oregon anglers have been paying $10 to fish the Columbia system the past few years, with the funding supposed to go towards moving the commercial fleet out of the mainstem while hatchery production was also moved into off-channel bays and sloughs.

Washington and Oregon jointly manage shared non-tribal Columbia fisheries but disagreements over the reforms have the potential to throw 100 years of concurrent management into question in 2017 if an agreement isn’t reached.

“This Commission has decided to perpetuate the battles indefinitely, and our allies are disgusted,” Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association executive director Liz Hamilton said in the email late last night.

Friday night’s vote came about after a letter from Oregon Governor Kate Brown asked the commission to reconsider a January decision that backed away from the agreed-to reforms, and to do so by early April.

With the commission only fudging a bit towards meeting Washington, Rees vowed that other lawmakers in Salem will be hearing from he and his allies.

“We’re going to take care of this legislatively,” he said.

Sportfishing interests are also depending on Washington’s commission and Governor Inslee to hold firm and continue supporting the plan, which supports more selective styles of fishing in an era of numerous Endangered Species Act listings, as well as conservation and economic benefits.

The Evergreen State’s Fish and Wildlife Commission is also meeting this weekend, but there is no action item on the agenda concerning Columbia River reforms. Certainly, however, it will be a topic of discussion at Saturday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, Friday afternoon, dozens of anglers, guides, commercial fishermen and seafood processors provided testimony, some of whom were asked follow-up questions by commissioners, a few in an almost cross-examining style by Holly Akenson of Northeast Oregon and Bruce Buckmaster of Astoria that clearly bothered one speaker who spoke of the chilling effect the grilling of members of the general public might have.

“It broke my heart to see so much dysfunction in this process,” noted Hamilton. “Neither agency staff, nor the public deserve to be mistreated by our so-called leaders.”

Recreational anglers spoke to following the plan adopted by both states’ commissions, while gillnetters asked that Oregon hold to its Jan. 20 vote instead of concur with Washington’s position, which itself was an initial compromise. Netters talked of family heritages at risk, but one fishing guide felt disrespected, as if their efforts trying to make a living and bringing business to the Columbia wasn’t being recognized.

LIZ HAMILTON OF THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PROVIDES COMMENT TO THE OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION ON COLUMBIA RIVER REFORMS IN THIS SCREENGRAB OF TODAY’S PERISCOPE BROADCAST OF THE MEETING. (PERISCOPE)

What follows is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release on today’s actions:

The Commission voted unanimously to further adjust Columbia River salmon fisheries rules today along the following lines:

  • Spring Chinook 80/20 sport/commercial allocation of allowable ESA impacts. Commercial priority to off-channel large-mesh gillnet fisheries not constrained by run-size buffer. Mainstem commercial fisheries only occurring with tangle net gear after the run update if remaining impact balances allow.
  • Summer Chinook 80/20 sport/commercial allocation of harvestable surplus; large-mesh gillnets not allowed for mainstem commercial fisheries.
  • Fall Chinook 70/30 sport/commercial allocation of allowable ESA impacts of the limiting fall Chinook stock (tule or Snake River wild), and <70/>30 for the non-constraining stock. Large-mesh gillnets allowed in mainstem commercial Zones 4-5; assign up to 2 percent of the commercial fishery impacts for use with alternative gears in the lower river; commercial Coho fisheries restricted to tangle nets in Zones 1-3.
  • Youngs Bay sport closure remains in effect.

More details will be available next week, when the new rules are posted online.

WDFW Reports Smackout Pack Depredation

A Northeast Washington pack of wolves that has been the subject of intensive nonlethal deterrents killed a calf last week.

WDFW investigated the depredation in the Smackout Pack range last Wednesday and announced it was a confirmed wolf kill on Friday evening.

It’s the first by the pack since last October when it injured a calf that subsequently died.

“The livestock producer has maintained sanitation by removing or securing livestock carcasses, and deployed a range rider at the start of the grazing season,” reported state wolf manager Donny Martorello.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE SMACKOUT PACK OF WOLVES IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE SMACKOUT PACK OF WOLVES IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

Conservation Northwest said it was “disappointed” to hear the news, as over the past five years it has helped ranchers who run cattle here to use nonlethal tactics to try and prevent conflicts with wolves.

But the organization also acknowledged that that’s just not always going to work.

“With the range rider seeing signs that younger adult wolves from the Smackout Pack had been testing the cows in recent weeks, the ranchers had significantly increased human presence on the grazing allotment prior to the depredation,” Conservation Northwest said in a statement. “In addition to the range rider regularly working 14-hour days, seven days a week, other family members provided more herd supervision across the grazing allotment on foot, horseback and ATV.”

The calf was apparently killed several hours after being seen with its mother before dark.

“After discovering and documenting the depredation, the range rider cleaned up the site and removed the carcass. However, trail cameras deployed over the weekend showed that wolves later returned to the site,” CNW stated.

Martorello said he’d be updating the WDFW’s online event chronology as it pertains to the Smackouts.

He also reported that a Spokane Tribe hunter had killed a wolf on the reservation where hunting is allowed year-round with an annual limit of six. It was reported elsewhere that another wolf was taken there in July. The black-coated Huckleberry wolves roam this country in southern Stevens County.

On the Profanity Peak front, Martorello reports that efforts to remove the rest of the livestock-depredating pack are ongoing. Spokeswoman Madonna Luers also reiterated that Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber is not operating unilaterally, as was alleged by a Facebook page late last week, and that he continues to work with WDFW.

On Friday the state and sheriff jointly investigated an attack on a dog northeast of Republic and Luers says the culprit could not be determined and is considered “unknown.”