Monthly Archives: September 2016

Marine Toxin Levels Delay Razor Clam Digs At Long Beach, Cloud Openings Elsewhere.

Rising marine toxin levels have prompted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to delay upcoming razor clam digs at Long Beach and to review openings at other ocean beaches.

The department continues to monitor toxin levels to determine whether razor clam digging can proceed at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches.

WDFW previously announced a tentative schedule of digs for Oct. 14 through Dec. 31 at the four ocean beaches.

However, digs at Long Beach are on hold until tests indicate toxin levels have dropped and the clams are safe to eat, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

Test results on razor clams dug recently at Long Beach indicate levels of domoic acid exceed the threshold (20 parts per million) set by state public health officials. Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.

Ayres noted that toxin levels also have increased over the past week at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks but remain below the threshold set by public health officials.

“These latest toxin test results cast uncertainty on the fall razor clam season,” Ayres said. “We hope this is a short-term spike in toxin levels that won’t lead to closures at other beaches.”

The department will provide updates in the upcoming weeks on planned openings on WDFW’s razor clam webpage at

Elevated levels of domoic acid forced state shellfish managers to cut short the razor clam season in the spring of 2015 and delay opening again last fall.

More information about domoic acid, as well as current levels at all ocean beaches, can be found on WDFW’s webpage at

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WDFW Hosts Free National Hunting And Fishing Day Celebration In Wenatche.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is hosting a National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration on Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the North Central Washington Gun Club, 2710 Gun Club Rd., East Wenatchee.

“This family oriented event is a great way to introduce youth and newcomers to target shooting, hunting and fishing,” said David Whipple, WDFW hunter education division manager. “It’s also an opportunity to recognize that hunters and anglers are and will continue to be among the most active supporters of wildlife management and conservation.”

Youth 17 years of age and under who attend the event with an accompanying adult can shoot WDFW firearms, archery equipment and air rifles for free. Agency staff and WDFW hunter education instructors will be on hand to teach shooting safety and provide instruction and guidance.

For those interested in learning to fish, participants can take part in a walleye fishing clinic and learn to cast a line with spinning reels. “There are few things better than fishing to instill appreciation and respect for nature – and maybe also a bit of patience,” said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager.

The event also features:

Lunch provided for free for the first 150 youth attendees and accompanying adults.
Free participation bags with shooting safety gear for the first 150 youth attendees.
Door prize drawings.
A turkey hunting clinic, and presentations on scent-free hunting.
Opportunities to learn basic knot tying.
Opportunities to make plaster casts of animal tracks and Japanese-style (Gyotaku) fish prints.
Conservation organization displays and information.
The free event is hosted by WDFW’s Hunter Education Division and the Volunteer Program. It is sponsored by the WDFW, hunter education instructors, master hunters, the Washington Hunter Education Instructor Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wenatchee), the North Central Washington Gun Club, the Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Mule Deer Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Bass Pro Shops (Tacoma), Cabela’s (Yakima), Sportsman’s Warehouse (Wenatchee), Stan’s Merry Mart, Volterra Restaurants (Ballard and Kirkland), and Pacific Food Importers.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate the conservation successes of hunters and anglers.

Governor Inslee recently recognized “Hunting and Fishing Day” in Washington via proclamation.

Visit for more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day, Governor Inslee’s proclamation, and the role hunters and anglers play in conservation across the nation.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 9 / 21 / 2016

Salmon fishing at Winchester Bay was much improved this last week. For the last few months, the catch has been comprised almost entirely of Chinook salmon, but last week coho salmon began entering the lower river and definitely improved the overall fishing. Unfortunately, about eighty percent of the coho salmon being landed in the lower river are unclipped and not legal to keep. The ocean coho season is still in effect and a few anglers have been casting spinners into the ocean off the south side of “The Triangle”, since both wild and clipped cohos at least 16-inches long are legal to keep in the ocean. But anglers doing so must adhere to ocean regulations – which means single barbless hooks only – and they should avoid fishing the lower river after keeping an unclipped coho from the ocean if they don’t enjoy having to do a considerable amount of explaining.

After catching nearly 13 percent of the ocean coho quota in the first few days, the ocean coho catch slowed with about 17 percent of the quota landed during the next seven days. Through Sunday (Sept. 11th), 29.4 percent of the quota had been caught and kept. By the time you read this, it’s almost a certainty that more than half the ocean coho quota will have been caught and kept, but there is also a chance that the the season will run through September and not close early.

Most of the spinner sales are still green or chartreuse, but as more coho salmon enter the Umpqua River, the sales of pink spinners will increase.

With the improvement in the salmon fishing and the continued good crabbing, South Jetty bottomfishing has been very much overlooked, but still productive for greenling and striped surfperch. A few anglers have taken advantage of the much improved Sparrow Park Road to fish the beach for redtailed surfperch and some good catches of nice-sized “pinkfins” were made last week.

A New Zealand brown trout was recently certified by the IGFA as a new world record. The 42 pound one ounce fish was caught by 71 year old angler Otwin Kandolf while fishing the Ohau B hydro canal on New Zealand’s South Island. The lunker was caught below a commercial salmon farm and there is some speculation that it owed its incredibly fat physique to feeding on food pellets that drifted downstream from the salmon farm. The record brown only measured 36.6-inches in length.

By comparison, the last two world record brown trout, a 41 pound eight ounce fish from the Wisconsin portion of Lake Michigan and a 41 pound seven ounce fish from the Big Manistee River, a tributary to the Michigan portion of Lake Michigan, measured 40.6-inches and 43.75-inches respectively. If the record brown from Michigan had the same body shape as the New Zealand lunker, it would have weighed more than 70 pounds.

An Oregon bow hunter was arrested in Deschutes County last week for fatally shooting his hunting companion in the stomach. Where things went wrong was when Michael Shawn Pekarek, after going to full draw, but not getting a shot at a deer he spotted, turned around while still at full draw and “accidentally” released the arrow which struck his hunting partner. The case is still under investigation.

A fishing trip to Woahink Lake last week ended up with a surprising variety of fish species landed.

I was fishing with Reedsport resident Dwayne Schwartz in his bass boat and we quickly landed several smallmouth bass and a few largemouths and when Dwayne landed a foot long pike minnow, we decided to see how many fish species we could catch. The first weed bed we spent any time on resulted in a couple of dozen yellow perch hookups and about a half-dozen bluegills and when Dwayne caught our first rainbow trout, we were up to a six fish species.

Try as we might, we couldn’t add any additional fish species, but then the cutthroat trout, black crappies and brown bullheads in the lake are rather rare.

We didn’t land any lunkers. Our biggest yellow perch was about eight inches long and the biggest bluegill between six and seven inches, the rainbows topped out about 12-13-inches as did the two pikeminnows. None of our smallmouth bass weighed more than a pound and the heaviest largemouth weighed about two pounds. But it was a fun half-day of easy light tackle fishing.

Bill Taylor dropped off some additional info concerning the Labor Day STEP Salmon Derby. 135 salmon were caught and turned in by 400 anglers (some of which fished two and a half days.). 83 salmon were weighed in at the Reedsport Boat Ramp and 52 were weighed at the East Basin Boat Ramp in Winchester Bay. Two of the salmon weighed in were finclipped Chinooks from our local STEP Chapter. The heaviest salmon turned in on Saturday weighed 27.9 pounds and was caught by Marcus Thedford of Sutherlin. The heaviest salmon turned in on Monday weighed 28.1 pounds abd was caught by Kaitlynn Baines of Albany.

As reported last week, the overall Derby winner was a 33.7 pound Chinook caught on Sunday by Dana Castle right in front of the Reedsport Boat Ramp and viewed by numerous witnesses. It was Dana’s only bite during the entire tournament.

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CDFW News – CDFW to Begin Reintroductions of Rare Rescued Trout to McCloud River Tributaries.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Northern Region Inland Fisheries Program and Heritage and Wild Trout Program staff will soon reintroduce a small population of rare rescued trout to their native waters in the McCloud River in Shasta County.

McCloud River Redband Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss stonei) is one of several sensitive and unique fish species that has required human intervention in order to ensure their survival during California’s continuing drought.

“The drought continues to be devastating on the populations of these important fish,” said Andrew Jensen, a biologist with CDFW’s Northern Region Inland Fisheries Program. “If we did not take action to save them during the summers, small, independent populations may have succumbed. Our proactive rescue efforts will help maintain this unique species for the future.”

CDFW biologists monitoring McCloud Redband streams (tributaries of the upper McCloud River) from late 2013 through mid-2015 found that drought effects were causing perilous conditions for the fish in both winter (with sections of the streams freezing over) and summer (with sections of the streams going dry). McCloud Redband, a state-listed Species of Special Concern, are in no immediate risk of extinction but their populations are small, fragmented and exist only in a few small streams. Rescue operations by CDFW in 2013-15 greatly reduced the drought mortality of the species.

Anticipating potential drought impacts on sensitive wild fish populations, CDFW installed self-contained Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) at several CDFW hatcheries throughout the state last year. The RAS enable the hatcheries to safely house rescued wild fish until environmental conditions improve. One of these facilities, CDFW’s Mt. Shasta Hatchery, was selected to serve as a drought safe haven for the McCloud Redband due to its proximity to the imperiled streams. More than 1,000 McCloud Redband were brought to the facility, where many were spawned by CDFW staff.

Today much of California remains in a drought, but the upper McCloud River watershed received some relief in the first half of 2016, with near-normal precipitation during the winter and spring. CDFW fisheries biologists believe that these improved habitat conditions (and forecast conditions) will support the release of the rescued McCloud Redband Trout.

Both the rescued adult fish and the hatchery-origin juveniles will be released beginning this week in sections of the stream that will provide the best chance of long-term success with minimal impacts to the existing natural-origin population. All the released fish will be tagged, allowing fisheries biologists to track their movement and survival after release into the river.

Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
Andrew Jensen, CDFW Northern Region Inland Fisheries Program, (530) 225-2378

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

Potholes Reservoir has been producing some very large yellow perch at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway in fifteen feet of water where Crab Creek enters Potholes and the Goose Island area. Crappie action has been reported as being good where Winchester Wasteway enters Potholes. Channel catfish have been reported in the Lind Coulee arm of Potholes.

Bass fishing has been very active near Goose Island, using jigs. One group reported 21 smallmouth and two walleyes to 24 inches. The sand dunes have been very good for largemouth. Be very cautious when driving a boat in the sand dunes this time of year.

The 2016 MarDon Marathon Dock Tournament will begin this Friday at 6:00 pm. We fish all night Friday and all day Saturday and Saturday night into Sunday until 11:00 am, when we present awards and trophies. We have a raffle on Sunday to support CWFAC (Central Washington Fish Advisory Committee). After the awards and raffle, we have a fried chicken dinner and pie social. This dock event was the idea brought to us by the late Sue Madison, which has provided many people years of enjoyment and a fun finish to summer. Remember no boats, just dock and bank fishing. The entrance fee is $40.00 per person.

The Potholes water level is currently 1030 compared to 1028.8 last year at this time.

Robert and Mary Riggs caught their Walleye yesterday fishing with Shelby Ross on Potholes.

Robert and Mary Riggs caught their Walleye yesterday fishing with Shelby Ross on Potholes.

Greg and Nick Johnston of Lake Stevens had a great Dove shoot on Royal Slope.

Greg and Nick Johnston of Lake Stevens had a great Dove shoot on Royal Slope.

Levi Meseberg with a load of habitat boxes to be placed on the floor of Potholes Reservoir.

Levi Meseberg with a load of habitat boxes to be placed on the floor of Potholes Reservoir.

For more information about renting storage units or RV sites, call (509) 346-2651.

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All-depth Recreational Bottomfish To Reopen On October 1st.

The combination of the 20 fathom depth restrictions and the increased usage of rockfish descending devices reduced yelloweye rockfish impacts such that the recreational bottomfish fishery will be able to re-open to all-depths starting October 1 for the remainder of the year.

Yelloweye rockfish have a greater chance at survival if descended back to depth of capture, or at least 100 feet. Additionally, the mortality rate applied to released rockfish is greater for fish released at the surface than for those released with a descending device. ODFW and many angler groups have been doing outreach and education, as well as distributing devices for the last several years. This lead to a 65-70% usage rate in recent years. However, during May and June 2016 only just over 50% of yelloweye rockfish were released at depth with a descending device. After the 20 fathom depth restriction and additional outreach and education this summer, in August the usage rate increased to almost 70%. Fewer encounters due to the 20 fathom depth restriction combined with the increased descending device usage is what is allowing the bottomfish fishery to re-open to all depths in October. This is a good example of anglers helping the fish and the fishery.

While the efforts to date have helped and are allowing the bottomfish fishery to re-open to all-depths in October, that doesn’t mean anglers no longer need to try to avoid yelloweye rockfish or descend those the incidentally catch. Yelloweye rockfish are going to be a limiting species for many years, so continued diligence is needed.

Information about descending rockfish (rockfish recompression) can be found at: has some videos on how to use a number of devices

Rockfish descending devices are available from many coastal tackle shops and online through the individual manufacturers.picture1_original

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WDFW News – Free Festival To Celebrate Columbia River Sturgeon.

The Columbia River ecosystem and its primitive inhabitant, the sturgeon, will be honored here Saturday, Sept. 17, at the 20th Annual Sturgeon Festival.

The free, one-day festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, in Vancouver. The festival is hosted by the City of Vancouver in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

While sturgeon have top billing, the popular festival features a variety of entertaining and educational activities for all ages. New this year is #SturgeonFestRocks, involving kids, painted rocks and prizes. (See

Other events include the popular Birds of Prey Show, a live reptile display, and Eartha the Ecological Clown along with her performing cockatoo. WDFW will also dissect a sturgeon, giving festivalgoers a close-up view of the species’ anatomy.

Prevalent in the Columbia River, the sturgeon is a primitive fish that has not changed substantially since it emerged millions of years ago. Sturgeon are a long-lived species, reaching 5 to 6 feet in length by the age of maturity. A few sturgeon in the Columbia River have been verified to be over 80 years old.

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CDFW News – Caltrans and Fish And Wildlife Urge Motorists To Be Alert During Watch Out For Wildlife Week.

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert for wildlife on roadways during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs September 18-24.

“We urge motorists to remain alert and be cautious when traveling through wildlife areas, so our roadways will remain as safe as possible,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Drivers can really make a difference in avoiding wildlife collisions, simply by being aware while driving and watching for wildlife crossing signs.”

According to Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native species and their natural communities, there are 725,000 to 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions in the U.S. every year, resulting in more than 200 human fatalities. In California, between eight and 10 drivers and as many as 20,000 deer die in wildlife-vehicle collisions each year.

“Between now and December, deer and other wildlife are highly susceptible to vehicle collisions,” said Marc Kenyon, CDFW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict Program Manager. “Deer will soon start their annual migrations to winter range, bucks will be preoccupied competing for mates, and bears will be searching for food in preparation for hibernation. Such natural behaviors can lead these animals into the way of unsuspecting drivers. Drivers can prevent collisions with animals by being careful and paying attention.”

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders of Wildlife and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

Wildlife experts from these organizations offer the following tips for motorists:

Be especially alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
Pay particular attention when driving during the morning and evening, as wildlife are most active during these times.
If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
Don’t litter. The odors may entice animals to venture near roadways.

Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve awareness of key issues, and improve ecological sustainability:

Highway 246, Santa Barbara County

Six new highway undercrossings have been designed for California tiger salamanders and small animals to pass safely between breeding ponds and upland habitat on the opposite sides of Highway 246 between Buellton and Lompoc. This species is protected under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts. In addition to the design and implementation of these six undercrossings, Caltrans has proposed a five-year monitoring study to assess the undercrossings’ effects on California tiger salamanders and other animals crossing the highway. The project is expected to be completed in April 2017.

Highway 89, Sierra County

On a stretch of Highway 89 between Truckee and Sierraville, a recently-completed $2.08 million project consists of two new 12-foot by 10-foot wildlife undercrossings, providing a safe path for animals to cross under the roadway. The project also includes four escape ramps and over 14,000 linear feet of deer fencing on both sides of the highway to help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Highway 76, San Diego County

Two new wildlife projects, which are part of the $208 million State Route 76 (SR-76 Corridor Project) East Segment and Interchange construction project between Interstate 15 and Interstate 5, will include six wildlife crossings and escape ramps. Wildlife escape ramps allow animals to jump out of the fenced-in highway, if needed. Post-project monitoring will be conducted after completion to monitor their use and influence decision-making for future projects. The project is expected to be completed in late 2017. Five other new wildlife crossings and directional fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012, also part of the SR-76 Corridor Project.

Media Contacts:
Dana Michaels, CDFG Communications, (916) 322-2420
Tamie McGowen, Caltrans Public Affairs, (916) 657-5060

California's "Watch out for wildlife week" runs from Sept. 18th through the 24th.

California’s “Watch out for wildlife week” runs from Sept. 18th through the 24th.

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Six Fish Species From Woahink Lake.

On Wednesday, I spent several hours fishing Woahink Lake with Dwayne Schwartz in his bass boat.

Ad we started, the day was overcast and surprisingly windy.

Initially, my floating Rapala in a yellow perch pattern drew most of the strikes, but Dwayne’s crawdad-hued diving crankbait stayed effective throughout the trip.

We quickly caught smallish largemouth and smallmouth bass and when Dwayne caught a foot-long pikeminnow, we decided to see how many fish species we could catch.

When I spotted some yellow perch following my lure in a weedy cove, we both switched to panfish gear and caught numerous perch to eight inches, several bluegills to at least six inches.

Dwayne thought he had a jumbo perch when a 13-inch rainbow grabbed his panfish lure – and just like that, we were up to six fish species.

Try as we might, we couldn’t catch any other fish species, but the cutthroat trout, brown bullheads and black crappies in Woahink Lake are quite rare.

All our smallmouths weighed less than a pound and we were disappointed that we could not at least threaten the 19-inch smallie an angler pulled from Woahink last week.

For the day, we hooked numerous smallies, at least a dozen largemouths, a couple of pike minnows, several rainbow trout about ten bluegills and at least 30 yellow perch. All the fish actually landed were quickly released.

It appears that there are as many smallmouths in the lake as largemouths and since Woahink drains into Siltcoos Lake via its Woahink Creek outlet, I would be shocked if a very few smallies don’t start turning up in Siltcoos Lake in the next few years.

Dwayne Schwartz holds up a typical Woahink Lake smallmouth.

Dwayne Schwartz holds up a typical Woahink Lake smallmouth.

Dwaune's first rainbow gave us six fish species for the day.

Dwaune’s first rainbow gave us six fish species for the day.

A two pound largemouth was the best fish of the day.

A two pound largemouth was the best fish of the day.

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Columbia Steelhead Bag Cut To One Fish Above McNary Dam.

Following Washington’s lead, Sport fishermen may only retain one hatchery steelhead upstream of McNary Dam, effective Sept. 15 – Dec. 31, under rules adopted by Columbia River fishery managers.

The one steelhead bag limit, originally scheduled to begin Nov. 1 upstream of McNary Dam, will be implemented earlier to aid passage of wild steelhead destined for the upper Columbia, which are tracking behind expectations this year.

Reduced bag limits in downstream Columbia River fisheries began Aug. 1 downstream of Bonneville Dam and Sept. 1 between Bonneville and McNary dams.

For more details about this and other in-season rule changes, please visit ODFW’s on-line Regulation Update Page and click on Columbia Zone updates.

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