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Monthly Archives: June 2014
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved new regulations for recreational and commercial smelt fishing in Puget Sound in order to increase protection for the valuable species.
The commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), voted to approve the new rules at a meeting Friday in Olympia.
Miranda Wecker, commission chair, said the new regulations demonstrate the agency’s conservation objective to maintain a healthy population of forage fish, which are an important food source to a variety of species in Puget Sound.
“The new regulations preserve sport and commercial fishing opportunities while providing needed protection for smelt,” Wecker said.
The new policy:
Adds a new 60,000-pound annual quota for the Puget Sound commercial smelt fishery.
Reduces the commercial fishery by one day each week, allowing commercial fishing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday during seasonal openings in each area.
Closes inactive commercial smelt fisheries, including dip bag and purse seine, which have not been in use for at least 10 years.
Closes nighttime recreational dip net fishing. Recreational dip net fishing will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Tuesday. Jig gear can continue to be used seven days per week, 24 hours per day.
Population abundance estimates are not available for smelt. However, Puget Sound-wide commercial catch and catch rates indicate relatively high harvest over the last several years. The commission also requested an annual review of the commercial and recreational smelt fisheries in Puget Sound.
In other business, the commission approved several land transactions and was briefed on a planned acquisition of 2,900 acres in Yakima County. The property connects summer and winter habitat for the Yakima elk herd.
It seems that the only requirement to catching Chinook salmon off Winchester Bay is to be able to cross the Umpqua River Bar and have the ocean calm enough to actually fish.
Fishing success should improve when fin-clipped cohos become legal to keep this coming Saturday.
Additionally, a few fall Chinook salmom start entering the lower Umpqua River around the first of July allowing salmon anglers a chance to catch salmon when the bar is uncrossable or the ocean to rough to fish.
Interest is building in salmon fishing along the Oregon coast – and especially off Winchester Bay. However, rough ocean conditions and an Umpqua River Bar that is often severely restricted, or completely closed has made it very difficult to acutally fish for salmon. Right now, the only salmon legal to keep while fishing the ocean are Chinook salmon at least 24-inches long. Beginning this Saturday, ocean coho salmon become legal to keep – but they need to have their adipose fin clipped and healed – and they need to be at least 16-inches in length.
A few sport anglers managed to fish the ocean out of Winchester Bay last Thursday and caught some Chinook salmon, but unfortunately, the rough bar and ocean conditions persisted.
The upcoming ocean coho season is going to be the most generous in recent memory. The season is set to last through August 10th – unless the quota of 80,000 fin clipped cohos is actually reached before then.
In the highly likely event that the quota for the finclipped ocean coho is unmet, the uncaught portion of the quota will be added to the quota of 20,000 cohos for the non-selective coho fishery. However, it won’t be on a fish-for-fish basis, but a a number the ODFW deems to be “impact neutral”. The non-selective coho fishery allows an angler to keep two salmon per day and they do not have to be finclipped – but can be.
The non-selective coho season starts August 30th and runs through September 30th or when the quota is reached – whichever is earlier.
As for some other local fisheries, fishing pressure has been very light off the South Jetty/Triangle for bottomfish, but fishing has been fairly productive for striped surfperch and greenling. cabezon are also being caught, but are not legal to keep until July 1st.
Umpqua River shad fishing remains mediocre, but hasn’t fallen off much over the last few weeks. The smallmouth fishing is excellent and should even improve slightly over the next several weeks. Nightcrawlers and small plastic worms and grubs work well for the smallies and sightfishing for bass you can actually see is both easy to do and productive.
Some sizable crappies were caught over the last couple of weeks at Lookout Point Reservoir (between Oakridge and Pleasant Hill). Lookout Point has, in past years produced crappies measuring more than 18-inches and weighing more than four pounds – much larger than the 16-inchers pulled from it recently. The downside is that the crappies can be very difficult to find in a reservoir as long and as deep as Lookout Point is. Some good-sized walleyes have turned up near the upper end of the reservoir near the Hampton Boat Ramp.
The water level on Potholes Reservoir is dropping daily. This not only creates more overnight camping options in the sand dunes it also makes improved bass and walleye catching. As our water level lowers channels through-out the 18,000 square acres that comprise the sand dunes become more easily identified. Serious walleye anglers continue to learn to locate the sandy bottom of primary channels in the dunes. Then troll worm harnesses with crawlers or a slow death system with crawlers on the edge of the mud bottom channels next to primary weed lines where walleye wait to ambush their dinners. Many bass fishers are enjoying 40 fish catch and release fishing trips along these same channels. The Bass Anglers focus on beaver huts, sub-merged wood or their own secret holes on or near primary channels. Spinner Baits are producing great bass action along with many types of plastic baits especially Yamamoto Senkos, Plastic Grubs and Lizards. Don’t ignore a great top water bite with Rebel Pop R’s, Buzz Baits and Plastic Floating Frogs especially the Spro Bronze eye Popper Frogs.
Crawdading is in full swing and at the MarDon Resort Tackle Shop we have 3 types of crawdad traps available. These traps are ranging from $15 to $60 in cost so they can fit into any budget.
The MarDon Tackle shop has lots of great items for a last minute fathers day present. Anything from clothing to a large selection of tackle.
The unique Umpqua spawning run of redtailed surfperch, commonly called “pinkfins” produced excellent fishing through last weekend.
Unfortunately, a boat is necessary to target the perch that spawn in the river, but guided fishing trips for the perch are available.
One succesful perch guide is Bryan Gill of the Umpqua Angler(541-852-9889). His perch trips cost $110 per angler and he has been very successful with several boat limits to his credit.
SALEM, Ore. – The Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted the Coastal Multi-Species Conservation and Management plan, which now becomes the state’s working document for managing salmon, steelhead and trout populations along most of the Oregon Coast.
According to Tom Stahl, ODFW Conservation and Recovery Program manager, the goal is to provide a strong conservation platform for native fish in coastal rivers, while still providing continued harvest opportunity for wild and hatchery fish.
“This plan is about keeping our wild salmon, steelhead and trout in coastal rivers healthy, and maintaining and improving harvest opportunities on wild and hatchery fish,” Stahl said. “We are investing in the future in this plan.”
Some highlights from the plan adopted today:
Emphasis on maintaining and improving wild fish populations, including special focus on those populations identified as “at risk.”
Overall hatchery releases coast-wide will increase.
Consolidation of some hatchery programs, and the identification of some wild fish emphasis areas.
Opportunities for new wild winter steelhead harvest in the East Fork Coquille River, Big Elk Creek and Salmon River.
Harvest levels for some fisheries set on a sliding scale based on the relative abundance, where harvest can increase in years of strong returns but be reduced in years when returns are down.
Today’s Commission action caps an extensive, almost two-year public process that included input from stakeholders, anglers, the public, and management partners.
“This is a package that has been forged through compromise and consensus,” said Ed Bowles, ODFW Fish Division administrator. He credited partners and stakeholder team members, who represented often competing points of view, for working hard to reach consensus.
Several stakeholders testified to the Commission that early on they opposed the plan. However, based on continued discussion and compromise they were able to work with their constituencies and ODFW to endorse the plan adopted today.
Also at today’s meeting, the Commission authorized the purchase of 10 acres on the Alsea River for future development of a boat ramp that would provide access to the popular fall salmon fisheries in the Alsea River tidewater. The development of a public boat launch on the lower Alsea has been a high priority for both ODFW and Lincoln County.
“This park and boat ramp will provide easy access to a prime piece of fishing ground,” said Jim Chambers, Parks Supervisor for Lincoln County.
The $330,000 purchase will be funded by the Oregon State Marine Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, while Lincoln County will pursue additional grants for construction of facilities.
In other business, the Commission:
Set the July 2014 through June 2015 commercial sardine seasons.
Approved the permanent rules for the 2014 ocean salmon seasons – many of which are currently underway under temporary regulations — and the sport and commercial fisheries in the ocean terminal areas./
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept public comments through July 4, 2014, on several updated draft management plans designed to guide state hatchery operations in portions of Puget Sound.
The draft plans, known as a Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMP), describe the operation of the state hatchery programs for Soos Creek coho, Hoodsport fall chinook, and South Sound net pen coho.
The draft HGMPs describe the potential effects of the programs on wild fish species – including salmon and steelhead – that are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The draft plans are available for review on WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hatcheries/hgmp/ ) or at the department’s office in Olympia. To schedule an appointment to review the plans in person, call (360) 902-2782.
People who would like to receive email notification of updated HGMPs must subscribe at the website. All future notifications will be distributed to subscribers and posted on the website.
Comments on the draft HGMPs can be submitted by U.S. mail to Hatcheries at 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA, 98501, or by email at vog.aw.wfdnull@stnemmocSP-PMGH .
WDFW is updating the draft HGMPs to better reflect current efforts to protect and restore wild salmon.
Public comments, WDFW’s response and any resulting modifications to the draft HGMPs will be posted on the department’s website. The finalized HGMPs will be forwarded to NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency responsible for implementing the ESA.
NOAA Fisheries is currently working to produce a final environmental impact statement on the effect of hatchery programs on protected salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River and Puget Sound.
Trout fishing at Lake Spokane will improve with the stocking of 155,000 catchable-size rainbow trout now under way – the start of a 10-year agreement between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Avista, the Spokane-based energy utility.
Lake Spokane, sometimes called Long Lake, is the Spokane River reservoir just west of the city of Spokane, created by Avista’s Long Lake Hydroelectric Development. Avista and the state of Washington have long worked together on fishery enhancement.
Lake Spokane has long been popular with anglers for bass, crappie and perch. The annual stocking over the next 10 years of 155,000 rainbow trout, each about 8 inches long and expected to grow bigger quickly, should boost what has been only a fair trout fishery.
The trout, from WDFW’s Spokane Fish Hatchery and Trout Lodge, Inc. in Soap Lake, are sterile so they cannot reproduce with native fish in the river system. They are marked with clipped adipose fins for ease of monitoring harvest through creel surveys that will begin in 2016.
WDFW district fish biologist Randy Osborne and Avista Environmental Specialist Tim Vore thank members of the Spokane Fly Fishers and Inland Empire Fly Fishing clubs for volunteering time to the trout stocking program.
“Avista has long been providing public fishing and boating opportunities,” said Vore, “but this is an excellent new opportunity to fish and enjoy Lake Spokane.”
Osborne says anglers can expect the trout to be down in the cooler water of the reservoir this summer, and therefore more conducive to boat fishing. But this fall and next spring, when the stocked trout are bigger, casting near the surface off of the docks or public shorelines will also be productive.
For more information on Lake Spokane’s fishing opportunities and regulations, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/210/
Fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 one-and-a half pound triploid rainbow trout in 20 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 14-15.
“This is the third straight year we’ve stocked triploid trout before Father’s Day,” said Chris Donley, inland fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “A fishing license is a great Father’s Day gift and catching these big fish will make for some wonderful memories.”
“Young people and fishing go together,” adds Donley. “Whether or not you can take your father, and whether or not you have a kid of your own, this Father’s Day weekend is a terrific time to catch a memory – and a huge trout.”
Fishing licenses can be purchased online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov ; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. For details on license vendor locations, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ .
All of the lakes that will be stocked with 15 to 17 inch triploids before Father’s Day have good shore and boat access. More details on fishing locations are available at the Fish Washington website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/ .
The lakes by region and county, and the number of triploids that will be stocked, are as follows:
North Puget Sound Region:
King County: Green Lake, 1,500
Snohomish County: Blackmans Lake, 250; Gissburg Ponds (aka Twin Lakes), 250
Skagit County: Campbell Lake, 250
Whatcom County: Padden Lake, 250
Coastal/Olympic Peninsula Region:
Grays Harbor County: Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #2, 100
Jefferson County: Sandy Shore Lake, 150
Mason County: Mason Lake, 500
Pierce County: American Lake, 1,500
Thurston County: Clear Lake, 250; Hicks Lake, 250
Clark County: Horseshoe Lake, 250
Kittitas County: Cooper Lake, 250
Yakima County: Clear Lake, 500
Grant County: Park Lake, 400
Okanogan County: Alta Lake, 350; Conconully Reservoir, 750
Spokane County: West Medical Lake, 1,250; Williams Lake, 400
Pend Oreille County: Diamond Lake, 600
Hundreds of other Washington lakes have been stocked with millions of trout over the past year. Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/