Tag Archives: yellow perch

Curlew Lake SP, Ferry Co. Serve Up Family Fun, Good Fishing

How peaceful and restful is a week at Northeast Washington’s Curlew Lake?

Well, if you’re a guard dog that is tuckered out from all the swimming, trail running, fetching sticks and more you’ve done, you’ll sleep so soundly you won’t even hear the deer sneaking up on you.

A CURIOUS MULE DEER DOE APPROACHES OUR CAMPSITE AND NAPPING DOG NYOKI AT CURLEW LAKE STATE PARK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

But Amy, River, Kiran and I also came back to the Westside happily tired out too after seven days spent exploring beautiful northern Ferry County and northeastern Okanogan County.

Along with fishing we enjoyed horseback and bicycle rides, sight-seeing and wildlife viewing, kayaking and inner-tubing, searching for fossils and swinging from a big ol’ rope into another nearby lake.

A ROAD LEADS THROUGH WDFW’S CHESAW WILDLIFE AREA, ABOVE THE REMOTE NORTHEAST OKANOGAN COUNTY TOWN OF THE SAME NAME. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I really can’t pick out one highlight over any other, as it was all really fun, the weather was mostly good, and we all had a great time. I daresay it was an instant top-five in the pantheon of Walgamott Northwest Campouts.

I brought mostly trout and bass gear and used them to little effect — meaning, maybe a bite or two from the former species and just tiny specimens of the latter — but fortunately I had a backup plan.

KIRAN WAITS FOR A BITE OFF A DOCK AT CURLEW LAKE STATE PARK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

This spring reader Jerry Han cued me into the excellent perch fishing at Curlew. Perch were illegally introduced several years ago and were an initial cause of concern because of how popular and productive the rainbow fishery is and how the nonnative species competes with young trout.

As potentially harmful as it could yet prove, I will grudgingly admit that turning to yellowbellies probably saved our fishing, at least for Kiran and given the shallower, warmer south-end waters we stuck to.

IT TOOK A LITTLE BIT FOR KIRAN TO DIAL IN WHEN TO SET THE HOOK ON FISH, BUT HE EVENTUALLY GOT IT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Jerry and his family like to fish in winter and spring for perch, and he sent me some tips and equipment to try out during our trip, specifically a bait pump and Crappie Nibbles to load into it and squirt into tube jigs.

A boatload of anglers who made an emergency run to shore by our campsite so one could use the facilities also clued me in to another tactic, a little nub of nightcrawler behind an orange curltail.

Combining the two methods we got some bites, but the winds and lack of an anchor for my 12-foot sit-inside kayak also made it tough to stay on top of the schools at Curlew’s south end.

Still, it was interesting to see Kiran come up with his own fishing theories. One afternoon it was a bit stormy, so we were stuck on shore and took some casts off a fallen tree then moved over to the aviation dock at the state park.

KIRAN SHOWS OFF ONE OF THE NICER YELLOW PERCH HE CAUGHT AT THE LAKE’S SOUTHERN END. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

He caught a bass at both places and the next day wanted to ditch the jig and use just a worm because he felt that that was what the fish actually wanted.

So we headed out in the kayak to our hot spot just south of Beaver Island and I rigged up his rod with just a weight, baitholder hook and a worm and handed it to him while I looped a worm behind a chartreuse curltail on a 1/32-ounce jighead and fished it myself.

As luck would have it my set-up caught the first perch, so I handed it with a fresh worm chunk to Kiran and took his no-frills rod and of course caught one on that.

But it soon became apparent that the combo of a curltail and worm was what the fish really wanted, and using it Kiran quickly outfished me, reeling up a nice mix of perch with it and learning that fishing doesn’t always make sense but a little extra sparkle and size can help increase the bite.

A TIGER MUSKY LURKS IN THE WEEDS (LOWER LEFT) AT THE STATE PARK’S SWIMMING AREA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

One perch I caught that didn’t make it drew the instant attention of the lake’s bald eagles and osprey, and soon the rush of wind through an adult bald’s feathers whooshed right over me as the raptor reached down with its talons, grabbed the fish and flew off to a nearby tree to dine.

The biggest fish we saw was a tiger musky lurking in the weeds of the swimming area. Some other camping kids spotted it nestled in the milfoil and whatnot and the boys and I waded in to inspect it as well. It’s hard to judge how long it was, but at least 3-plus feet, and it was not afraid of people.

I had two big swimbaits that might have gotten a go from it, but that would have been followed immediately by the splintering of my rod and reel into 39 pieces, as all the combos I brought along were pretty lightweight.

THE BOYS AND I APPROACH AN OLD TUNNEL ON THE NORTHERN REACH OF THE FERRY COUNTY RAIL TRAIL. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Besides all the fishing we also enjoyed two nice bike rides on different parts of the Ferry County Rail Trail, one along the west side of the lake and the other from the town of Curlew north through the tunnel.

You can’t hunt along the abandoned railway, but there is one big bear in the area, if the numerous large piles on the trail by the tunnel are any indication. Biking along the Kettle River I cursed myself for not bringing my fly rod and hopper imitations.

RIVER LOOSENS A CHUNK OF SHALE FROM THE ROCK RACE AT THE STONEROSE FOSSIL SITE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

In Republic we stopped by the Stonerose Fossil Site and gingerly whacked apart shale laid down in a shallow lake during the Eocene some 50 million years ago, finding imprints of dawn redwood needles, deciduous leaves and a March fly. Under a magnifier at the interpretive center a staffer pointed out how the bug’s wings had come off its body.

RIVER FLAGS TRAFFIC ON HIGHWAY 21 AS THE K DIAMOND K GUEST RANCH’S HORSE AND CATTLE HERDS ARE MOVED IN THE MORNING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Not far south of town is the K Diamond K Guest Ranch which had space for us one morning to join a nice long trail ride. River and Kiran assisted in gathering and herding the 50 horses and 20 longhorns from a field on one side of Highway 21 to pastures and a corral on the other before we all mounted up.

RIVER AND KIRAN RIDE ACROSS A HIGH PASTURE OF THE K DIAMOND K, A 1,600-ACRE WORKING RANCH WITH AN INCREDIBLE LODGE FRAMED BY LOGS HARVESTED ON THE SPREAD ABOVE THE SANPOIL RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

In the evenings deer wandered through our camp, followed by bats flitting through the pines, and as the larch logs coaled we gazed at the stars as the Milky Way came out. Late at night coyotes serenaded us.

THE FAM RELAXES IN THE AFTERNOON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

We also took a drive to Chesaw and the Okanogan Highlands, where I camped in 2003 and 2004, and which was where Amy’s and my camera got quite a workout capturing the stunning scenery. Along the way we made a stop at an awesome rope swing at Beaver Lake, then returned a couple days later for some more water fun and in hopes the loons there would call.

RIVER AND KIRAN ENJOY THE BEAVER LAKE ROPE SWING WHILE NYOKI GOES FOR A SWIM IN SEARCH OF A FETCH STICK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

They didn’t, but I can tell you that I’d love to call on this corner of the Northwest more often than once every decade and a half.

And next time it’ll be with even more fishing gear and rods.

CURLEW LAKE IN AFTERNOON LIGHT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

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SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (8-14-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River– 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 1 boat/4 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br – 31 bank rods kept 25 steelhead. 27 boats/73 rods kept 37 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.

NATE SCANLON BEAMS WITH PRIDE AT HIS MOM LARA AND HER ESTIMATED 30-POUND UPRIVER BRIGHT, CAUGHT IN THE BUOY 10 FISHERY ON AUG. 7 JUST ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. THEY WERE FISHING WITH GUIDE JOEL HENLEY AND TROLLING A GREEN-LABEL CUTPLUG BEHIND A CUSTOMIZED FISH FLASH AND 14 OUNCES OF WEIGHT TO KEEP THE SETUP “HUGGING THE BOTTOM.” (ANVILOUTDOORS.COM)

Tacoma Power employees recovered 121 summer-run steelhead adults, 68 spring Chinook adults, one spring Chinook jack, 62 spring Chinook mini-jacks, and two Cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released nine spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River located near Randle and they released six spring Chinook adults and two Cutthroat trout at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

To date, Tacoma Power employees have recycled 606 summer-run steelhead to the lower Cowlitz River.

Kalama River – 23 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 26 bank anglers kept 3 steelhead and released 1 Chinook jack. 3 boats/8 rods released 4 Chinook.

Drano Lake – 5 boats/7 rods kept 1 Chinook jack and released 1 steelhead.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – No anglers sampled.

Trout:

Merrill Lake – Fishing has been good for rainbow and cutthroat, some browns are being caught.

Catchable Trout Plants:

Lake/Pond Date Species Number Fish/lb Hatchery

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) August 6, 2019 Rainbow 2,680 1.34 EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) July 28, 2019 Rainbow 2,648 1.32 EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) July 24, 2019 Rainbow 2,786 1.39 EELLS SPRINGS

GOOSE LK (SKAM) July 18, 2019 Rainbow 1,644 2.30 GOLDENDALE

Warmwater:

Lacamas Lake – Bass and yellow perch fishing has been excellent.

Rowland Lake – Anglers have been catching some bluegill and pumpkinseed.

Swofford Pond – Bass and channel catfish fishing has been excellent.

Pikeminnow Sport – Reward Fishery Program:

The program operates from May 1 to September 30 in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). http://www.pikeminnow.org/

Buoy 10 

Date Number
of Boats
Number
of Anglers
Chinook
Kept
Coho
Kept
Comments
1-Aug 35 85 3 3 Opener
2-Aug 40 100 7 7  
3-Aug 192 505 45 34  
4-Aug 128 338 35 22  
5-Aug 73 180 47 30  
6-Aug 86 212 85 45  
7-Aug 0 0 0 0 Not Sampled
8-Aug 114 287 129 82  
9-Aug 35 97 31 27  
10-Aug 264 756 217 143  
11-Aug 334 997 82 66  

 

Lower Columbia Mainstem Sport Aug. 5-11

Salmon and steelhead:

Bonneville bank: 14 anglers with nothing
Camas/Washougal bank: 4 anglers with 1 Chinook jack kept
I-5 area bank: No report
Vancouver bank: 23 anglers with nothing
Woodland bank: 50 anglers with 1 Chinook kept
Kalama bank: 42 anglers with nothing
Cowlitz bank: No report
Longview bank: 52 anglers with nothing
Cathlamet bank: 5 anglers with nothing
Private boats/bank: 3 anglers with nothing

Bonneville boat: No report
Camas/Washougal boat: 14 anglers with nothing
I-5 area boat: 7 anglers with nothing
Vancouver boat: 23 anglers with 1 Chinook kept
Woodland boat: 24 anglers with 4 Chinook kept and 1 Chinook released
Kalama boat: 25 anglers with 2 Chinook kept
Cowlitz boat: 24 anglers with 5 Chinook kept and 10 steelhead released
Longview boat: 41 with 1 Chinook kept
Cathlamet boat: No report
Private boats/bank: 11 anglers with 1 Chinook kept and 1 jack released

Sturgeon:

Kalama boat: 2 anglers with 7 sublegals and 1 oversize released
Longview bank: 1 angler with nothing
Longview boat: 3 anglers with 1 sublegal, 2 legals and 1 oversize released

Walleye:

Camas/Washougal boat: 8 anglers with 2 kept and 2 released

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From Salmon To Perch To Crab To Derbies, August Has Lotsa Ops: Yuasa

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

In the blink of an eye, summer has shifted past the midway point but that doesn’t necessarily mean anglers should throw shade on late-season fishing opportunities.

In fact, the horizon looks very bright in August when salmon fisheries come into play at Buoy 10 near the Columbia River mouth, Willapa Bay, inner- Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Freshwater fish seekers also can set their sights on abundant yellow perch in many statewide lakes!

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

First off, the pink – a salmon that returns mainly during odd-numbered years and often referred to as “humpies” for a distinct hump that grows on their back near spawning time – forecast is a paltry 608,388 which could be among the lowest runs on record dating back to 1959. Returns soared above 1 million in 2001 and peaked at more than 10 million in 2009. The strong pace continued when it hit 6-plus million in 2011, more than 8 million in 2013 and dipped to 4 million in 2015.

In 2015, the pinks went from bloom to gloom as they faced a monumental drought period and extremely warm water temperatures in rivers. Winter flooding followed leaving very few young pinks to make it out to the ocean where they eventually ran into “The Blob” a large mass of warm water that wreaked havoc on sea life.

That lead to a dismal 2017 with an actual return of around 511,000 (1.1 million was forecasted) pinks, which was less than 82 percent the historical 10-year average.

While the pink forecast is conservative – this summer’s unexpected strong return of chinook and coho – we just might see a late fourth quarter comeback for humpies too. In fact, some early pinks began showing up in catches back in July so don’t give up on them just yet.
“There have been a lot of pinks caught (at Neah Bay and La Push) and many of them are nice size fish,” said Wendy Beeghley, the WDFW coastal salmon manager.

An unexpected large return of pinks were also showing up in other places like Sekiu, outside of the Freshwater Bay closure zone and in open areas off Port Angeles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as well as the San Juan Islands (which closed Aug. 1 for salmon fishing).
The Puget Sound pink run usually peaks in mid-August, and in southern Puget Sound the last week of August and early September are best.

Pinks aren’t the only game and so far, the coho and hatchery king fisheries have been a pleasant surprise from the coast clear into open areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The party lights began flashing for coho in June when places like central Puget Sound (Area 10) reopened for off-the-charts good action on resident coho. Then good king action began happening last month in the San Juan Islands (now closed to fishing in August), Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Tulalip bubble fishery and south-central Puget Sound.

It was the same scenario in the ocean when catches ramped up in late June from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco and have remained good this past month. Most of this is likely related to a strong forecast of 1,009,600 coho to the Columbia River compared to a 2018 forecast of 349,000.

Look for coho success in open areas of Puget Sound and Strait to only get better in August and build to a crescendo in September. In Puget Sound the total coho return for 2019 is 670,159, which is up from last year’s 557,149.

There will be a short inner-Elliott Bay king fishery from Aug. 2-5 and additional days may occur if in-season data shows the run to be stronger than expected. That won’t be the only crowning moment as areas from Whidbey Island south to Olympia have seen an uptick in catches of hatchery kings and should see good fishing this month in places that remain open.

WDFW extended the hatchery king salmon fishery in northern Puget Sound (Area 9), which is open through Saturday (Aug. 3). Central Puget Sound (Area 10) also remains open for hatchery kings as does south central Puget Sound (Area 11). Look for the latter two to produce some stellar fishing heading into this month.

Lastly, before heading out the door, check the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ for any possible emergency closures this month and also what marine and freshwater areas are open or closed for salmon.

Yellow perch options bloom in the summer heat

There’s nothing better than getting a first-time angler or youth hooked on fishing and yellow perch is one of those prime options.

Lake Washington – which is 20 miles long and covers more than 22,000 acres – is one of those places that comes alive in August for yellow perch.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Their population levels in this large urban lake is very robust and they continue to have yearly strong recruitment and survival rates that won’t make the slightest dent on production.

Most yellow perch average 7 to 10 inches along with some “jumbos” hitting the 11- to 12-inch range.

WDFW experts say it is only a matter of time before the official state record could come from Lake Washington. The current state record of 2.75 pounds was caught by Larry Benthien at Snelson’s Slough in Skagit County on June 22, 1969.

The reason behind this possibility is due in part to the ample feed and room for yellow perch to grow in Lake Washington, which is the second largest natural-bodied lake in Washington. Female perch are the largest and tend to grow much faster (usually maturing in three to four years) and can live if 8 to 10 years.

The best time of the year to fish for yellow perch begins around July when the water heats up, and peaks from August through October.

Look for schools of yellow perch in shallow water, 15 to 35 feet, and close to the shoreline. They will school up in shaded locations just outside the cover of weed beds, milfoil, aquatic weeds and lily pads or under docks, piers and overhanging trees and brush.

Yellow perch are active throughout the day and the only time they seek out covered areas is at night when predators are lurking.

Popular locations to fish are Seward Park; Kenmore log boom and pier; Juanita Bay; Magnuson Park shoreline; Andrews Bay; Newport area and slough; Yarrow Bay; Gene Coulon Park in Renton; Mercer Island near Luther Burbank Park; and off Leschi Park, Madison Park, Stan Sayres Pits and Mount Baker Park. Areas from the Montlake Cut into Lake Union are also good especially off Gasworks Park.

A light-to-medium-action trout fishing rod with a spinning reel attached to 4- to 6-pound test line works best. Use a worm and drop-shot (egg-style) weight attached to a three-way swivel or Sniper Lure Snubs – a colorful tiny 3-inch plastic worm. Live maggots, a skirted crappie jig work well. After you catch your first perch cut a small chunk of the meat or even a perch eyeball as bait.

Other good perch lakes are Sammamish near Issaquah; Kapowsin southeast of Puyallup; Beaver and Pine near Issaquah; Sawyer northwest of Black Diamond; Harts southeast of Yelm; Goodwin northwest of Marysville; Stevens east of Everett; American near Fort Lewis; Angle in Sea-Tac; Desire in Renton; and Meridian in Kent.

Dungeness crab fishing opportunities providing fairly decent catches

The Dungeness crab fishing success has been somewhat better than expected although many are having to still throw back some soft-shelled crabs.

Areas east of Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary line (Marine Catch Area 4), Sekiu (5), Port Angeles (6), east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) and northern Puget Sound (9) are open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

Central Puget Sound (10) is open through this Saturday, Aug. 3. The shorter season is due to an overage in last year’s crab catch.

Hood Canal (12) north of a line projected due east of Ayock Point is open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Areas south of Ayock Point are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

The San Juan Islands (7 South) is open through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). San Juan Islands (7 North) opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

South-central Puget Sound (11) and southern Puget Sound (13) are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

NW Salmon Derby Series loaded with events in August

The derby series kicked into high gear with the Lake Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby on July 24-28 seeing a good number of anglers turn out despite the  tough fishing. Top angler in the adult division was Bret Hojem with a 13.54-pound chinook; and top youth angler was Cooper Malcolm with a 9.82 chinook.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Prior to that the Puget Sound Anglers Bellingham Salmon Derby was held July 12-14. A total of 392 adult tickets and 72 youth tickets were sold with 164 chinook weighed-in for the event, which was 10 more fish caught than last year.

Tom Hartley of Anacortes took the top prize of $7,500 with a 21.90-pound hatchery chinook; second was Chris Wilson with a 21.60 worth $2,500; and third was Adam Beardsley with a 20.62 worth $1,000.

Other derbies on the horizon are the South King County PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 3; Brewster Salmon Derby on Aug. 1-4; Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 10; Vancouver, B.C. Chinook Classic, Aug. 17-18; and Edmonds PSA Coho Derby, Sept. 7. The Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby on Aug. 31 has been cancelled due to expected low salmon returns.

Drawing for the grand prize boat takes place at the conclusion of the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22. New at the Everett Coho Derby is a second weigh-in station located at the Edmonds Marina.

The grand prize $75,000 Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop boat from Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston will be making the rounds to each derby. The boat is powered with a Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motor on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer.

The boat is rigged with Burnewiin accessories; Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronics stereo. Other sponsors include Silver Horde Lures; Master Marine and Tom-n-Jerry’s; Harbor Marine; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Sportco and Outdoor Emporium; and Prism Graphics. It is trailered with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – not part of the grand prize giveaway – courtesy of Northwest Chevrolet and Burien Chevrolet.
In other related news, anglers can also start looking at 2020 with dates finalized for Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15.

Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Summer is sneaking by quickly so it’s time for me to jump on the boat and get into the fishing action. I’ll see you on the water!

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Unexpected Culprits May Be To Blame For Most Chinook Smolt Losses In Lake WA Ship Canal

Quick, name the nonnative fish species you think is most responsible for chowing down on Chinook smolts trying to make it through a bottleneck near the Ballard Locks?

You’re wrong.

Well, you are if you said either smallmouth or largemouth bass, and if some preliminary work by WDFW’s lead Lake Washington fisheries biologist holds water.

ONE YELLOW PERCH CAPTURED IN THE LAKE WASHINGTON SHIP CANAL BY STATE FISHERY BIOLOGISTS HAD THREE CHINOOK SMOLTS IN ITS STOMACH. (WDFW)

“We are finding that large perch are responsible for most of the predation on juvenile Chinook smolts, at least across the few sites we are monitoring,” said the agency’s Aaron Bosworth this week.

He says that yellow perch and burgeoning populations of recently illegally introduced rock bass are “doing way more damage” than bass are in the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

That’s based on netting Bosworth and his crews have been doing this and the past two years.

They’ve been setting and tending nets in the Montlake Cut, Portage Bay, Fremont Cut and Salmon Bay to figure out roughly how many piscivorous fish are in that stretch, and how much of their diet is comprised of young salmon trying to get to Puget Sound in spring.

A WDFW BUOY SITS OFF GASWORKS PARK ON JUNE 4. (BRAD HOLE)

One perch they recently caught was digesting three Chinook smolts.

That fish might have been an outlier, and there’s clear evidence that smallmouth also prey on salmon.

But between those stomach contents and the fact yellowbellies and rock bass make up a surprising 50-plus percent of the net catch, it’s pointing towards unexpected culprits that may be strong and increasing factors depressing salmon survival and thus state and tribal fisheries.

“This is an important — and preliminary — finding, and is slightly different from many existing ideas about which nonnative species are responsible for most of the smolt predation in the Lake Washington system,” Bosworth says.

Where yellow perch were introduced into the Lake Washington watershed a century ago, rock bass are a recent entrant and are originally from the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds.

Bosworth says they were “virtually nonexistent” in the ship canal 10 years ago, but are now “very common” at sampling sites.

CATCH DATA FROM SPRING 2018 BREAKS DOWN SPECIES CAUGHT IN NETS IN THE SHIP CANAL. (WDFW)

This isn’t the only effort trying to gauge predator populations in the basin. Earlier this year we reported on the Muckleshoot Tribe’s warmwater test fisheries in Lake Sammamish, also meant to figure out if directed gillnetting on spinyrays could be a “commercially viable” enterprise there.

It was scheduled to wrap up June 15. Initial data from March and April showed that just over 53.5 percent of the overall catch of 2,849 fish was comprised of native largescale suckers, followed by introduced smallmouth bass (20 percent) and fellow transplant black crappie (9 percent).

But that was also largely before the release of Chinook and coho from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. The percentages and diet may have changed in May and the first half of this month.

(It’s circumstantial, but the mid-May Lake Sammamish Perch Derby catch of just 94 compared to 686 last September may have been related to the flood of young salmon available for the species to eat instead of anglers’ baits.)

AARON BOSWORTH (LEFT) AND OTHER WDFW STAFFERS LIFT A NET FULL OF YELLOW PERCH CAUGHT OFF GASWORKS PARK. (WDFW)

The state’s study in the ship canal and the Muckleshoots’ in Sammamish are both included in what’s known as the LOAF, the 2019-20 List of Agreed Fisheries signed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission coming out of the annual North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process.

“The comanagers believe that many of the salmon smolts produced at our hatcheries and in natural spawning grounds around the basin are eaten by piscivores as they migrate through the Lake Washington system to marine waters,” states Bosworth.

According to Larry Franks of the Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, or FISH, just 8 to 10 percent of Chinook make it from the facility’s outlet to Shilshole Bay.

WDFW BIOLOGIST DANNY GARRETT DISPLAYS A ROCK BASS, CAUGHT IN 2017. WHERE THERE WERE FEW IF ANY IN THE SHIP CANAL 10 YEARS AGO, THEY’RE NOW FREQUENTLY CAUGHT, AND THE BIGGER ONES LIKE TO EAT SALMON SMOLTS. (WDFW)

To a degree that’s natural as the young of any species are the most vulnerable to getting eaten, but low numbers of returning finclipped adult Chinook are also increasingly constraining the fishing seasons we can have in Puget Sound and the lakes.

That’s leading to fewer days on the water and growing discontent among anglers.

Bosworth calls the ship canal a “predation gauntlet” filled with “lots of over-water structures that attract a number of piscivorous fish species.”

He says its warm waters could also boost the metabolic rates of the predators, meaning they eat more young Chinook, coho and sockeye as the little fish head for the salt.

THE SHIP CANAL CONNECTS LAKE WASHINGTON WITH PUGET SOUND. (WDFW)

Bosworth does allow that not all known salmon snarfers are showing up in the nets. Set for an overnight soak near the bottom, with all the traffic in the ship canal, they are limited to shoreline areas, not the offshore waters where cutthroat trout may lurk.

Cutts are a strong predator of salmon smolts, as are northern pikeminnow. They’re the primary bane of Lake Washington sockeye.

Again, these are initial results but it builds on a City of Seattle paper citing a 2000 USGS study that listed pikeminnow, smallmouth and largemouth as the primary predators in that order in the ship canal back then.

HUNGRY PREDATORS INCLUDING TROUT GATHER AT THE SOUTH END OF LAKE SAMMAMISH IN MIDSPRING TO SNARF DOWN JUST-RELEASED SALMON SMOLTS LIKE THESE COHO THAT SPILLED OUT OF THE BELLY OF A TROUT CAUGHT BY FAUSTINO RINCON THIS YEAR. (FAUSTINO RINCON)

Bosworth says he views this new effort as “an important monitoring program that may help us get a better understanding of why we are seeing such low return rates for salmon in the Lake Washington watershed.”

“I’d really like to expand this type of work in the future to see if this is happening in other areas of the lake as well,” says Bosworth.

The only problem? You guessed it.

Money — it’s tight and getting tighter these days around the biologist’s office.

WDFW had hoped that state lawmakers would approve both its license fee increase and General Fund request this past session for a big $60 million infusion, but in the end there was no hike, it received less than it needed to even maintain fishing and hunting opportunities — and was saddled with added costs without matching funding to boot.

It also must honor commitments it has made with the tribes through past North of Falcons, like continuing the ship canal predator study this year, and hiring more staff “to produce more timely catch estimates from catch record cards,” according to Nate Pamplin, the agency’s policy director.

It has all led to a budget shortfall for monitoring Puget Sound’s hugely important salmon fisheries in the coming two years, but WDFW hopes legislators will fix that with a $1.7 million request they want to include in a supplemental budget request for 2020’s session in Olympia.

So that leaves Bosworth and his project gauging abundance of Lake Washington piscivores and what they’re eating in a bit of limbo.

“I need to figure out how to get other people to help me with the money part.  We’ll see how far I get with that idea,” Bosworth says.

Ideally in his mind, it involves a “regional partnership” with other governmental entities and groups with a stake in improving salmon survival.

YELLOW PERCH AND CHINOOK SMOLTS. (WDFW)

Hell, it could also include anglers.

While there is a consumption advisory out, it sounds to me like Gasworks Park is a pretty damned good place to fish for fat and sassy yellow perch.

With smolts clearing the area soon if not already, I’ll bet they’re getting hungry too.

Family Enjoys Trout, Perch Fishing At Curlew

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade — or at least in this case, a fish fry.

As Curlew Lake transitions from a rainbow fishery to one gradually being overrun by perch, it provided good angling for both species for members of the Han family of the Tri-Cities area.

AUSTIN HAN LIFTS A HOOKED YELLOW PERCH OUT OF THE WATER AT CURLEW LAKE. (JERRY HAN)

They were making their annual pilgrimage to Washington’s northeastern corner over Memorial Day Weekend.

“Curlew may be a great destination for trout, but my parents and kids sure do love the perch fishing there!” says Jerry Han, a Kennewick dentist.

Getting in on the action was his 90-years-young uncle P.P. Han who  has just started getting into fishing this spring.

“He is turning into a fishing machine,” reports Jerry. “He caught the biggest trout of the day and got into a kayak for the first time to try kayak fishing.”

AT 90 YEARS OLD, P.P. HAN HAS TURNED INTO AN AVID ANGLER, FOLLOWING UP HIS FIRST CATCH AT THE TUCANNON LAKES EARLIER THIS SPRING WITH A NICE RAINBOW FROM CURLEW LAKE. (JERRY HAN)

Jerry reports rainbows to 17 inches, perch to more than a foot long.

“The trolling for trout is pretty standard with dodgers and Wedding Ring spinners with a chunk of nightcrawler. Easy limits of great-tasting pink-meated trout,” he says.

Afterwards, he switched everyone’s rigs up to target the perch using 1/16-ounce jigheads and 1 1/2-inch crappie tubes tipped with a piece of worm or strip of belly from an already caught perch.

“The perch belly is way more durable if the perch are biting aggressively, but a crawler will get bites guaranteed,” Jerry tips.

As for tube colors, he says red/chartreuse was tops, followed by all chartreuse.

CORBIN HAN HOISTS A NICE CURLEW PERCH. (JERRY HAN)

Han says that using his sidefinder he located a “huge” perch school mainly in 12 to 16 feet of water and suspects similar gatherings be found in the lake’s shallower bays.

In the short term, the yellowbellies are adding to Curlew’s plethora of species to fish for, which also include largemouth and smallmouth bass and tiger muskies — Jerry says he saw several 3-footers lurking in the shallows — but state fishery biologists don’t expect it to last after the illegal introduction of perch around 2011.

Their numbers jumped from just four in 2012 to at least 840 two years later, a “startling increase” that initially spawned a derby called the Perch Purge.

But WDFW has also changed its tune, promoting the fishery, though their collective teeth might be gritted about the likely demise of one of the state’s destination trout fisheries, not unlike what happened to Oregon’s Phillips Reservoir.

“We anticipate that over time perch will become overabundant and may stunt to sizes that are not favorable to anglers. In addition, we expect to see trout survival and growth negatively impacted by the presence of perch,” an agency spokesperson stated on WDFW’s Facebook page in a post this past winter pimping ice fishing for perch.

P.P. HAN DISPLAYS ANOTHER CURLEW TROUT AS ANGLER JERRY HAN’S PARENTS LOOK ON. (JERRY HAN)

They said it was likely the number of rainbows would be reduced to account for competition with perch, though it’s possible trout sizes could be increased as part of that.

“Anglers should expect trout catch rates to go down as perch abundances increase,” WDFW said. “Anglers can help with the trout fishery in Curlew by removing as many perch as they can. The bonus is that perch are pretty darn tasty.”

That, no doubt, is exactly what the Han family is finding on their return home, and that’s what the Walgamotts will be doing when we camp here for a week later in summer.

Besides the state park, there are three resorts on Curlew — Black Beach, Tiffany’s and Fisherman’s Cove.

GET OUT THE FILLET KNIVES, TIME TO GET TO WORK, BOYS! (JERRY HAN)

Perch Derby Highlights Plight Of Seattle-area Kokanee Stock

Another yellow perch derby will be held on Lake Sammamish, this one on Saturday, May 18, part of a larger effort to recover the lake’s kokanee population.

THE 2ND ANNUAL LAKE SAMMAMISH PERCH DERBY WILL BE HELD SATURDAY, MAY 18, WITH CASH AND PRIZES TO BE AWARDED FOR ANGLERS WHO BRING IN YELLOWBELLIES LIKE THIS ONE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

It follows on an initial derby put on last September by Trout Unlimited, who say that catching yellowbellies will help the metro water’s landlocked sockeye. Juvenile perch compete with kokanee for zooplankton, key forage for the native fish.

Headquartered at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, the derby begins at 8 a.m. and runs till 1 p.m. 

“There will be adult and kid divisions with prizes awarded to the person catching the longest perch, the heaviest perch, and the heaviest 25 perch, and also a bonus prize for the largest pikeminnow caught by registered anglers,” reads a TU event announcement.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for kids, and all proceeds go towards recovering Sammamish kokanee.

Those in the King County lake have been struggling for decades as the surrounding area has urbanized and water quality has declined. Despite efforts to prop up the population in recent years, there has been an alarming decline in spawning numbers. Less than 20 were counted in tributaries in fall 2017, prompting an emergency response from county officials.

TU was among the groups that in 2007 petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the stock under the Endangered Species Act, but in 2011 the feds declined to do so, saying it wasn’t an independent population.

According to state biologist Aaron Bosworth, yellow perch were introduced into Sammamish in 1915, and though it’s unclear who put them there, it came near the end of the era when the U.S. Fish Commission was moving Eastern gamefish into Western waters.

These days, efforts are being made to get them out of the lakes, or limit their impacts to young salmonids.

During last fall’s derby, 636 perch weighing 146 pounds were weighed in, with Jeff Stuart accounting for nearly 19 pounds alone, most of anyone.

He also had the longest in the adult division, a near 11½-incher, while in the kids division, Wesley Mehta weighed 7¾ pounds of perch overall and Carson Moore brought in both the longest and heaviest perch.

Sponsors include Washington State Parks, King County, Bass Pro Shops, the Snoqualmie Tribe. For more info, see lakesammamishkokanee.com/perch-derby.

Boat Ramp, Access Improved At Baker County’s Phillips Reservoir

THE FOLLOWING IS A JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AND OREGON STATE MARINE BOARD

Boaters and anglers now have improved access to Phillips Reservoir, with the recent completion of the Mason Dam boat ramp. Mason Dam is a popular and heavily used boat launch facility. Phillips Reservoir receives approximately 5,000 boating use days annually.

IT WILL BE A LITTLE WHILE BEFORE THE ICE COMES OFF OF PHILLIPS RESERVOIR AND BOATS CAN LAUNCH, BUT WHEN IT DOES ANGLERS WILL FIND AN UPGRADED RAMP AT THE DAM ACCESS. (USFS VIA ODFW)

This project was identified in the Oregon State Marine Board’s “Six-Year Plan” as a priority to replace the deteriorating boat ramp. The half-century old boat ramp was part asphalt, part concrete and part gravel/dirt. The ramp was unsafe and difficult to use at nearly all water levels.

The recent project replaced the old potholed boat ramp with 430 linear feet of cast in place concrete ramp that improved access and will make the site more usable during low water conditions.

Phillips Reservoir provides good fishing for rainbow trout and yellow perch from mid-April through July and again in the fall as the water cools, according to Tim Bailey, district fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The reservoir also provides good ice fishing for the same species from mid-December through March, according to Bailey.  Since 2016, ODFW has stocked the reservoir with trophy-sized rainbows, providing additional opportunity to catch bigger fish. It is scheduled to receive 4,500 trophies this spring from May through June.


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Mason Dam boat ramp is the first access site that visitors encounter at the reservoir. In addition to the boat ramp, amenities include an accessible vault toilet and parking for vehicles with boat trailers. The Mason Dam boat ramp is the only year-round boat ramp at Phillips Reservoir. The reservoir is typically ice-covered from mid-December through the end of March but the site also offers access for ice fishers during that time.

Cost of the project was approximately $275,000, which was paid by several partners, including the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration grant, and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

For more information about boating access and boating regulations, visit http://www.boatoregon.com/map.

Catch Perch, Help Save Imperiled Sammamish Kokanee At Derby

A yellow perch derby will be held on Lake Sammamish tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 15, part of an effort to help out the lake’s landlocked salmon.

“They are abundant and are predators of the endangered kokanee salmon at certain life stages,” say organizers of the event being put on by Trout Unlimited. “The derby will not only help to reduce the number of perch in the lake but will educate anglers about kokanee salmon and the ongoing work to improve the watersheds and health of Lake Sammamish.”

THE FIRST ANNUAL LAKE SAMMAMISH PERCH DERBY WILL BE HELD SATURDAY, SEPT. 15, WITH CASH AND PRIZES TO BE AWARDED FOR ANGLERS BRINGING IN YELLOWBELLIES LIKE THIS ONE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Headquartered at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, the derby begins at 7 a.m. and runs till 2 p.m.

Prizes include $200 each for longest and heaviest perch, and heftiest overall catch (maximum: 25 fish).

There’s also a youth division with $50 gift certificate to a sporting goods retailer for the same three categories.

More prizes from the Snoqualmie Tribe and local businesses will be given away as well.

And according to TU, all proceeds will go towards recovering kokanee.

Those in the King County lake have been struggling for decades as the surrounding area has urbanized, and despite efforts to prop up the population in recent years, there has been an alarming decline in spawning numbers.

Less than 20 were counted in tributaries last fall, prompting an emergency response from county officials.

ADULT KOKANEE SPAWN IN LAKE SAMMAMISH TRIBUTARY EBRIGHT CREEK. (ROGER TABOR, USFWS)

TU was among the groups that in 2007 petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list Sammamish kokanee under the Endangered Species Act, but in 2011 the feds declined to do so, saying it wasn’t an independent population.

Yellow perch are a popular sportfish. According to state biologist Aaron Bosworth, the species was introduced into Lake Sammamish in 1915, and though it’s unclear who put them there, it came near the end of the era when the U.S. Fish Commission was moving Eastern gamefish into Western waters.

These days, efforts are being made to get them out of the lakes, or at least limit their numbers and impacts to young salmonids.

After perch were illegally stocked into Eastern Oregon’s Phillips Reservoir, state officials launched a gillnetting campaign and released piscivorous tiger muskies into the lake to try and recover the once-vaunted rainbow trout fishery.

In Northeast Washington, after a “startling increase” in perch numbers at previously clean Curlew Lake, locals organized a “Perch Purge.”

Tickets for the Lake Sammamish derby are $20 for adults and $5 for kids, $30 and $10 if you register on site at the state park tomorrow.

A GOOD TACTIC FOR PERCH IS TO FISH WORMS — OR SMALL WHITE CURL-TAILED GRUBS — ON BOTTOM, LIKE THESE ANGLERS ON LAKE WASHINGTON WERE DOING A COUPLE FRIDAYS AGO. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Yuasa: Plenty Of Places To Catch Chinook, Coho This Month, And Lake WA Perch Peaking

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

Wow! We’ve hit August in a flash and by now anglers have gotten their chances to hook salmon in what’s clearly turning out to be a memorable summer.

KINGS ARE THE TARGET FOR ANGLERS EVERYWHERE FROM BUOY 10 TO DEEP SOUTH SOUND THIS MONTH. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

And while we’ve just eclipsed the midway point of summer, one shouldn’t let a lack of sleep or the ever growing “must do” list of house chores hold them back from getting out on the water.

In early June, my fishing journey began when the early summer chinook run ramped up in south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) around the Tacoma area off the Clay Banks, Flats and even as far south as Fox Island!

Fast forward to mid-July when the hatchery king fishery in northern and central Puget Sound (Areas 9 and 10) started off on a high note with anglers averaging more than half-a-fish-per rod during the Area 9 opener. Fishing was so good that WDFW had to shut-down the chinook season – it’s still open for hatchery coho – earlier than anticipated.

Here is a historical snapshot of Area 9 angler trips with total fish caught and days open – 2018: 1,640 anglers caught 629 fish in seven days (doesn’t include July 26-29 data); 2017: 1,312 caught 383 in 14; 2016: 785 caught 157 in 19; 2015: 1,283 caught 212 in 11; 2014: 759 caught 96 in 30; 2013: 1,079 caught 251 in 19; 2012: 737 caught 206 in 34; 2011: 812 caught 50 in 46; 2010: 662 caught 107 in 46; 2009: 930 caught 135 in 17; 2008: 739 caught 153 in 25; and 2007: 1,211 caught 329 in 15.

This kind of success and pure fishing fun reminded me why I enjoy being on my boat during this short window of opportunity in the summer chasing migratory kings from Puget Sound into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and down to the Columbia River mouth.

We’re all limited to how much time we get on the water especially when we’ve got jobs to hold down, family vacations to take and spending time with the kiddos. But, being smart and choosing where to fish locally will often lead to “fish-on” time-and-time again.

Looking at the month of August and September, anglers will still have plenty of choices to hook into kings and silvers.

Some of my favorite spots are Buoy 10 located near the Columbia River mouth; Westport on the south-central coast; Willapa Bay; Puget Sound in the Vashon Island/Tacoma area; and Long Beach just outside of Ilwaco off the southern coast.

While the Columbia chinook and coho returns aren’t as glamorous compared to recent year averages – the total fall chinook forecast is 365,000, which is about half of the 10-year average and falls below the 582,600 forecast and actual return of 475,900 last year – it will still provide ample hook-ups to make for a worthwhile trip to Ilwaco.

I first got hooked on the shallow water fishery off Long Beach by Tony Floor (a long-time sport-fishing advocate and dear fishing partner for many years) where we’d troll in 20 to 50 feet of water with just a banana weight and whole herring. Trolling through the huge schools of anchovies would constantly make your rod tip vibrate.

Keeping up the speed on your boat by going at a fast clip of 3 to 3.5 miles per hour is vital and you only need 13 to 15 pulls of line off the reel. Then kick back and watch those kings smash your bait and head out into the horizon like a fast-moving locomotive.

Just inside the Columbia River mouth is the famous Buoy 10 salmon fishery where on busy weekends will have an armada of boats stretching in all directions as far as the eyes can see.

Look for hungry salmon at places like the “Wing Walls” on the Washington side of the river, Desdemona Flats, above and below the Astoria-Megler Bridge and the Blind Channels just above the bridge.
If you want to stay close to home it’d be wise to hit central (10) and south-central Puget Sound (11) since the South Sound-bound hatchery chinook forecast of 227,420 is up 21 percent from 10-year average and a 35 percent increase from 2017. Be sure to check the WDFW website or hotline just in case the fisheries close sooner than expected.

As of press time Area 10 was under a hatchery king quota of 4,743, which is twice as large as last year’s quota, and scheduled to remain open until Aug. 30. Look for good fishing from Kingston south to Jefferson Head, and other locales like Point Monroe, West Point, Yeomalt Point and Skiff Point.

Back in early July, the WDFW decided to keep Area 11 open on a Friday to Monday only schedule for boat angling to slow down the fast-paced chinook catch that is under a quota of 5,587 fish. However, catches eventually slowed down and WDFW made a decision to revert back to the area being open daily starting Aug. 1. The Area 11 scheduled closure date is Sept. 30.

Look for hatchery kings around Dolphin Point, Redondo Beach, Brace Point, Three Tree Point and Point Robinson.

Further south of the Narrows Bridge is where “13” could be your lucky number! This deep-south sound region is known as Area 13 and will be the final staging area of the strong hatchery chinook returns. Anglers were already hooking up on good numbers of hatchery king around Fox Island in July, and seek them out at Anderson Island, the Nisqually Flats, Dover Point near Zangle Cove, Itsami Ledge, Dickenson Point, Little Fish Trap Bay, Big Fish Trap Bay and Johnson Point.

Another sleeper spot in late-summer is the San Juan Islands and is open to wild and hatchery kings through Sept. 3.

Great summer warm-water fish action

Fish species like yellow perch and rock bass just don’t get the attention as much as our beloved salmon, but I will often sneak away to my favorite lakes for these fine tasting fish.

WDFW BIOLOGIST AND HARDCORE ANGLER DANNY GARRETT SHOWS OFF A NICE STRINGER OF LAKE WASHINGTON YELLOW PERCH. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The cool thing about this fishery is that you can easily catch them from the shore or boat, and Lake Washington – which is 20 miles long and covers more than 22,000 acres – is excellent for yellow perch, rock bass as well as many other fish species.

The yellow perch population is one of the most prolific and are extremely easy to find and catch. It’s peak time right now as the water temperature heats up making them very active all-day long.

Look for schools of yellow perch in shallow water, 15 to 35 feet, and close to the shoreline. They will school up in shaded locations just outside the cover of weed beds, milfoil, aquatic weeds and lily pads or under docks, piers and overhanging trees and brush.

Target Seward Park; Montlake Cut; Newport Canal; Newport Shores; Kenmore log boom and pier; Juanita Bay; Magnuson Park shoreline; Andrews Bay; Newport area and slough; Webster Point in Union Bay; Yarrow Bay in Kirkland; Gene Coulon Park in Renton; Mercer Island near Luther Burbank Park; and in South Seattle off Leschi Park, Madison Park, Stan Sayres Pits and Mount Baker Park. Lake Union around Gasworks Park and other areas are good spots too!

A simple light-to-medium-action trout fishing rod and spinning reel loaded with 4- to 6-pound line on a drop-shot (egg-style) weight attached to a three-way swivel is the “go to” tackle. Baits of choice are worms, maggots or a skirted crappie jig. Once you catch your first perch cut a small chunk of the meat or even a perch eyeball, which works great as bait.

Other lakes to target perch are Sammamish; Kapowsin; Sawyer; Goodwin; Steven; American; Angle; Desire; Meridian; Samish; Whatcom; and Bosworth. The WDFW website offers a wealth of information at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/Species/1849/.

Word on NW Salmon Derby Series

The derby series got off to a good start with 362 adult and 45 youth anglers turning out for the PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 13-15. Participants weighed-in 155 fish and the winner of the $7,500 first-place prize was Darren Anderson with a 24.28-pound hatchery king. Second was Kevin Klein with a 21.60; and third was Ryan Johnson with a 20.44. By comparison in 2017, there was 329 anglers with 167 fish caught.

DARREN ANDERSON HOLDS AN OVERSIZED CHECK FOR $7,500 AFTER WEIGHING IN THE BIGGEST CHINOOK DURING THE BELLINGHAM PSA SALMON DERBY. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

That was followed by the Big One Salmon Derby on July 25-29 at Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.

The Brewster Salmon Derby on Aug. 3-5 was cancelled then reinstated after WDFW verified the summer chinook return to the Upper Columbia River was stronger than expected. The fishery reopened July 25 from Rocky Reach Dam to Wells Dam, including the Wenatchee and Chelan rivers; and Aug. 1 from Wells Dam to Chief Joseph Dam, including the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers. The change came after fishery managers were confident they’d achieve escapement goals.

Brewster Salmon Derby anglers in early July were refunded so they needed to re-register online at http://brewstersalmonderby.com/ by Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 5 p.m.

Other derbies are the South King County PSA Derby on Aug. 4; Gig Harbor PSA Derby on Aug. 11; and the Vancouver, B.C. Canada Chinook Classic on Aug. 18-19.

It’s also not too soon to start getting excited about coho in September and be sure to enter the PSA Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 8, and the biggest derby on West Coast – the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 22-23.

That is where we’ll draw the lucky name to win a grand-prize $65,000 KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with Honda 150hp and 9.9hp motors on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer. It is fully rigged with Scotty downriggers, Raymarine electronics, a WhoDat Tower and a Dual Electronic Stereo. Details: www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.

Now it’s for me to start tying up bunch of leaders and bolt out the door to see if I can entice a late-summer king to take my bait. See you on the water!

 

Plenty Of Porky Perch At Idaho’s Cascade, Though Fewer Smaller Ones

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME REGIONAL FISHERIES BIOLOGIST PAUL JANSSEN

Lots of large perch remain, but fewer smaller sizes could affect the fishery in the future

Since 2012, Fish and Game fisheries staff in McCall has annually conducted fall fishery surveys on Lake Cascade. We sample all fish populations in the lake, which helps manage all game fish in the reservoir.

So what did we find in our 2017 survey?

Lots of big perch

The perch population looks healthy. All ages of fish are present in the lake, and there’s still a large number of perch over 12 inches. Of all the perch we caught in nets 59 percent were over 12 inches.

(IDFG)

We have seen a decline in perch less than 11 inches in both 2016 and 2017 surveys. This is a result of predation on small perch by the large numbers of big perch and also pikeminnow, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and birds. If this trend continues, it will mean fewer jumbo perch in the future.

One of the primary food items for perch are juvenile perch and large numbers of big perch can have a huge effect on juvenile perch numbers as most get eaten. The good news is that as the large group of big perch decline, it allows for large numbers of small perch to survive and become the next generation of jumbos. Perch grow 1.5 to 2 inches a year, thus 12-inch fish are six to seven years old and 14 inch and larger perch are eight to 12 years old.

As a result of Fish and Game’s continued pikeminnow removal efforts their numbers have remained steady since 2012. However, in this years’ survey, the percentage of adult pikeminnow increased.  This is expected as young pikeminnow that are not killed in traps or by chemical treatment  grow in size. This illustrates the need for continued adult pikeminnow removal to protect the perch fishery.

Rainbows and smallmouths

We saw good numbers of rainbow trout in the fall 2017 survey ranging from 12 to 21 inches with most in the 12 to 17 inch range. However, we didn’t see as many rainbows over 17 inches than we have in the past.

(PAUL JANSSEN, IDFG)

We collected a number of 10 to 20-inch smallmouth bass with half of those larger than 16 inches. Trends in juvenile bass are unknown because our nets are not designed to collect those small fish.

Annual fish surveys are vital to managing Lake Cascade, which is the fourth-largest body of water in Idaho, contains many fish species and is a popular spot for anglers.

Managing for the future

The lake’s rainbow trout and kokanee fisheries are a direct result of annual stockings, and smallmouth bass are a self-sustaining population that we watch, but only manage with rule changes.

Yellow perch management is much more hands on and depends on the control of northern pikeminnow numbers. Therefore, of particular interest to managers is the status of the perch and pikeminnow populations.

We closely monitor perch population and fish sizes to ensure there are abundant perch over 9 inches, which cannot be eaten by pikeminnow, so they’re important for spawning and angler harvest.

Biologists also want to see good numbers of younger perch to replace the large fish as those older fish die of natural causes or angler harvest.

We closely monitor pikeminnow numbers and sizes and pikeminnow predation because it’s the biggest threat to the perch fishery.

Pikeminnow predation on perch was the primary cause of the fishery collapse in the 1990s when large numbers of adult pikeminnows ate virtually every perch under 9 inches in the lake.

Today, pikeminnow numbers are much lower than in the 1990s because since 2004, Fish and Game has removed large numbers of them using large traps and rotenone (a chemical pesticide which specifically targets fish) in the North Fork of the Payette River to remove pre-spawning adults.