Several stories over Labor Day Weekend caught my eye, including:
DESCHUTES RIVER EN FUEGO
I worried that our articles on Deschutes steelhead fishing this summer would be a bust, what with the weird water year on the Columbia compounded by early and midsummer spill operations at Pelton Dam, but freelance outdoor writer Bill Monroe reports in The Oregonian that the North-central Oregon river is “on fire in more ways than one”:
While crews struggled to contain a gnarly blaze blackening tens of thousands of acres and closing an entire section of the river upstream, the lower Deschutes lit up literally and figuratively the past few weeks. A monster run of summer steelhead has detoured into its cool water, finding haven beneath billowing clouds of smoke and the summer-heated Columbia River.
Anglers are finding willing biters throughout the lower river’s popular 12-mile stretch. One guide reported a whopping 90-strike day recently (fish, not lightning), with 54 summer steelhead landed. Most were released.
COLUMBIA PINK RUN WILL PROBABLY SET RECORD TODAY
“Stay tuned,” advised fisheries biologist Joe Hymer last week as an unusually large return of pink salmon moved up the Columbia, and today, in all likelihood, a new record run past Bonneville will be set.
Yeah, OK, so they’re not springers, summers or upriver brights, they’re not B-run steelhead, they’re not million-strong shad runs, they’re not oversize sturgeon, but for those of us who feel that humpies are the gods’ gift to Salmon Country and want to spread the humpy love near and far, this is big news.
Through yesterday, a total of 627 pinks had gone over the dam, and with the all-time high mark since counting began in 1938 just 10 fish away (637, set in 1991) and daily totals anywhere from 38 to 74 over Labor Day Weekend, it’s a cinch that today will The Day.
GAME WARDENING IN SEATTLE NOT JUST ABOUT CHECKING HOOKS, PATROLLING GREEN LAKE
A week or so ago, as I headed home from work, a gold F-150 with a star on the driver’s side door was stuck in a traffic jam. I took a closer look and the officer in the cab was Erik Olson, Seattle’s lone game warden.
Dunno where he was headed at that point, but the Spokane Spokesman-Review has a big old article on many of the things he does work on here in Bay City.
A 1998 Whitworth College graduate with a degree in political science, Olson is the department’s officer of the year, and has been with the agency seven years, six of them in Seattle. With a shaved-bald head, crisp uniform and fully stocked police belt, he can be an imposing figure, but is more likely to let first-time offenders off with a warning.
In a break from inspections Wednesday evening, he rounded up several people illegally fishing from the Spokane Street bridge into the Duwamish River below. He gave most a warning but issued a citation to Arthur Ferrera, who had hooked a salmon and stowed it in his car. But even Ferrera seemed relieved that the ticket was only $109, and the two parted on good terms.
“I want you out here fishing but I want you to follow the rules. Otherwise there won’t be any salmon left for anyone,” Olson said.
He didn’t study marine biology at Whitworth, but over the years has developed a wealth of knowledge about Northwest fish and shellfish in the marketplace.
Top-grade geoduck in a market case raises a red flag. The large clam native to Washington and British Columbia is much prized in Asia, where the top grade brings as much as $100 a pound. So if he sees geoduck in the Seattle markets that’s labeled as No. 1, going for a price Americans would agree to pay, he knows something’s fishy and demands to see the paperwork.
WDFW TO FOLLOW UP BLUE MOUNTAIN WOLF REPORTS
Eric Barker of the Lewiston Morning Tribune reports on growing numbers of wolf sightings in the northern Blue Mountains.
It’s not unexpected, of course, with three packs on the Oregon side of the range, but as more and more hunters move into the hills for deer and elk seasons, reports are sure to increase as well.
In fact, for an article in the October issue of Northwest Sportsman, our contributor Jeff Holmes spoke to WDFW wildlife biologist Paul Wik on deer and elk prospects in the Blues, and the conversation, of course, eventually led to wolves.
Wik told Holmes:
“Just this last week I got five pictures of wolves in the Dayton Unit from three different remote cameras,” said Wik in late August. “They came from hunters out there scouting elk…I suspect we have a pack. We have a lot of reports coming from the breaks of the Tucannon all the way to Blue Creek, but I can’t say yet until we confirm the wolves are breeding.
“We are going to spend some time this fall following up on [those reports] trying to confirm them.”
As for that other animal new to the Blues, Wik says:
Despite a rash of sightings of cows and calves, including by the author, Wik estimates the Blues’ moose population at only 10-20 animals. “We’re nowhere near offering permits for moose, but they are here.”
OREGON RIVER WILD COHO SEASONS APPROVED
And finally, my apologies for the late post on this significant and noteworthy Oregon fishing opportunity that we put into the September issue of Northwest Sportsman. NOAA finally approved retention fisheries for wild coho on a number of coastal river systems.
ODFW’s press release from — ahem, Mr. Walgamott — last week states:
Oregon anglers will enjoy the largest wild coho fishery on Oregon’s coastal rivers in 15 years when the season opens on Sept. 15.
For the third year in a row, predicted coho salmon returns are high enough to open some rivers and lakes to the harvest of wild fish. In 2011 these include the Nehalem, Tillamook Bay, Nestucca, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos, and Coquille rivers and Tenmile Lakes. Established wild coho fisheries will continue in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the seasons in June but, because coastal coho are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, fishery managers also needed approval from NOAA Fisheries, which came on Aug. 24.