Monthly Archives: September 2018

Razor Clam Season Delayed on Clatsop County Beaches.

Clams seen during ODFW’s annual stock assessment survey this year are small (between 2-3 inches).

ODFW will delay the opening of fall razor clam harvest along the Clatsop beaches from the traditional date of Oct. 1 to Nov. 1 at the earliest, to allow time to collect public feedback on management options in light of a recent stock assessment

Extension of the annual conservation closure only applies to Clatsop County beaches, and prohibits all harvest of razor clams (both recreational and commercial) along the 18 mile stretch of beach from Tillamook Head (Seaside) to the mouth of the Columbia River, until the closure is lifted.

ODFW recently completed the annual stock assessment survey for razor clams along the Clatsop beaches. The survey found that most clams are too small to be harvested by commercial clammers or desired by recreational clammers.

Photo Credit: ODFW
“Razor clams are moderately abundant on Clatsop beaches this fall, but the population is currently dominated by small clams with shell lengths between 2-3 inches,” said ODFW Shellfish Biologist Matt Hunter. “Recreational clammers typically try to avoid these small clams, and they are smaller than the 3 ¾” minimum size allowed for commercial harvest.”

According to Hunter, domination of the razor clam population by small clams is far from normal. “In 2004, we also saw large numbers of small razor clams along Clatsop beaches, but they were more variable in size with a few medium and large clams,” he explained. “Right now, it is difficult to find any razor clams larger than 4 inches.”

During the month of October, ODFW staff will hold a public meeting to solicit feedback regarding potential management actions that may be taken to protect undersize clams and provide better clamming opportunities next spring. Options include extending the closure through the winter to give clams time to grow into a size suitable for harvest.

Recently, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife delayed the traditional October razor clam digs on the Long Beach peninsula until late December due to similar concerns about the population and small size of clams. In Oregon, the population includes even fewer medium and large razor clams.

Most beaches along the Oregon coast are currently open for razor clamming. However, the south coast from the south jetty Umpqua River to the California border remains closed to razor clamming due to elevated marine biotoxins. Harvest of razor clams may be postponed at anytime due to elevated domoic acid or other marine biotoxins.

Bay clams and crab remain open for recreational harvesting along the entire Oregon coast. Mussels are open for recreational harvest along most of the Oregon coast, but harvest of mussels is closed from the south jetty of the Coquille River to the California border. For more information please call ODA’s shellfish safety information Hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures webpage or ODFW’s Recreation Report – Crabbing and Clamming page

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CDFW News – Recreational Spiny Lobster Season to Open on September 29th.

Thousands of lobster fishers are eagerly awaiting the start of the sport season for California’s spiny lobster, which opens at 6 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 and continues through March 20, 2019.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Environmental Scientist Jenny Hofmeister, the most lobsters last season were caught off Catalina Island. “In the past, San Diego has usually been the most plentiful spot,” she said. “But recently many fishers are finding success out at the islands.”

A lobster report card is required for all persons fishing for lobster and individuals 16 years or older must also possess a valid sport fishing license and ocean enhancement stamp to take lobster south of Point Arguello. Any person using hoop nets from a public pier and children who are under 16 and fishing for lobster do not need a license but must possess a valid lobster report card.

A typical legal-size spiny lobster will average about one pound in weight. Occasionally divers and hoop netters will find lobsters over five pounds (considered trophy size) in California waters. Spiny lobster taken must measure at least 3 1/4 inches in length and are measured in a straight line on the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. The daily bag limit for lobster is seven per person and an individual may not possess more than seven at any time except when a valid declaration for a multi-day trip has been obtained.

Lobster can be taken with hoop nets and by skin or SCUBA divers by hand only. No appliance (such as fish spears or poles) may be used to assist. Additional regulations governing the sport take of lobster and general fishing information can be found in the California Spiny Lobster Fishing brochure. Lobster fishers should also consult the Marine Protected Area maps for the California coastline to ensure they are not fishing in prohibited waters.

CDFW marine biologists suggest using an oily or aromatic bait to dispense a scent trail that nearby lobsters will follow back to the net. Squid, Pacific mackerel, bonito, anchovies, sardines and even cat food may serve as good bait. A wire mesh bait container will help prevent the loss of bait to fish or other large predators such as seals and sea lions.

Because lobsters are strong and have hair-trigger responses when they sense predators, the best strategy for divers is usually to grab or pin the lobster to the bottom by their body, rather than grabbing it by a leg or antennae which will likely tear off. Although lobsters can regenerate lost limbs, marine biologists have found that these lobsters ultimately produce fewer offspring because of the energy requirements for limb regeneration.

“They definitely can sense your hesitation,” Hofmeister said. “Most of their daily life is spent trying not to get eaten, so they are pretty good at getting away if you aren’t quick enough.”

Lobster report cards must be returned or submitted online to CDFW at the end of each season by April 30, regardless of whether the card was used or any lobster were caught. Fishers who fill up a report card can turn in their card and purchase another. Failure to report catch from all cards by the deadline will result in a nonreporting fee that is charged when you purchase a report card next season.

“Reporting your catch is so important for managing the recreational lobster fishery,” Hofmeister said. “Our goal is to ensure that we can all be catching lobster decades from now, and to do that we need to know how many are being caught, where you are catching them, and what it took to get them. That is why we want to know about all of your trips – including the ones where you get skunked.”

The complete spiny lobster regulations are contained in the 2018-2019 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, found on CDFW’s website and wherever fishing licenses are sold. A lobster fishing FAQ and other biological information specific to California’s spiny lobstercan also be found on the CDFW website

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

The fishing on the Potholes Reservoir remains very good. The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1027.58 feet – rising .25 feet this past week. The water temperature on the main Reservoir is right at 62 degrees. Of interest to duck hunters – the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is forecasting that the outflow gates will remain open until October 22 of this year – indicating that the water will remain low until the closing of the gates. The Reservoir should rise fairly quickly after that.

The walleye bite is good – if you hit the right day. It seems that the bite varies literally day by day. One day it is on the next may a little tough. This past Saturday two guide boats brought in 54 walleyes for eight anglers – so the fish are here! Fish the humps in front of the sand dunes and around the mouth of Crab Creek and the rocks off Gooses Island. The bite seems to have switched to more of a crawler rig bite versus a crankbait bite – even though crankbaits are still working early in the morning. Troll a Slow Death hook with a worm by itself or a Smile Blade/Slow Death rig behind a 2-ounce bottom walker around the deeper mid-lake humps in the 15-25-foot depth range. Bring lots of worms as many incidental catches of bluegill, crappie, bullhead and bass are being reported.
The Largemouth bass bite continues to be strong. Both Largemouth and Smallmouth are along the face of the dunes, and along the face of the dam. Some anglers are finding bigger fish in the 15-20-foot range. Top baits for Largemouth include – swim baits, spinnerbaits, crank baits, Wacky Rigged Senkos and Skirted Heart Throb XL’s fished on a 1/2 oz. football head and fishing a drop shot rig. Smallmouth are being caught on the rock piles off Goose Island and along the face of the dam as well as around the face of the dunes. Use Flicker Shads, 3½” tubes, swimbaits, drop shot baits and Senkos for the Smallmouth.
The trout fishing on the Potholes Reservoir is picking up with the cooler water temperatures. Trout fishers have been catching trout trolling #5 and # 7 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps.
The crappie fishing continues to be good throughout the Reservoir. Big crappies are being caught trolling #5 Flicker Shads and #5 Rapala Shad Raps along the face of the dunes, and jigging VMC Probe jigs and Wingding jigs on the deeper humps. The MarDon Resort dock continues to hold fish. Fish Trout Magnets and Gulp Alive Minnows off the dock on a 1/64th oz. jig head. Big bluegills are being caught around the mouth of Crab Creek and along the face of the dunes. A few perch are being caught off the dock and around Goose Island and the mouth of Crab Creek. Fishing from the MarDon Dock is reserved for registered guests only.
Both Channel Catfish and Yellow Bullhead fishing has been very good over the past couple of weeks. Anglers have been trolling walleye rigs with crawlers in the dunes, on the face of the dunes and around Goose Island. Bank fishermen have been doing well on Cats in Lind Coulee and at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway using Magic Bait Catfish Nuggets and Crawlers.
If you are a bird watcher – now is a great time to see the lesser Sandhill Cranes on their migration from Alaska back to California for the winter. Look to the skies early in the morning as they fly to the fields to feed and again in the evening returning to roost in the sand dunes. Take a drive around the fields between the Potholes Reservoir and Othello to spot them feeding.
If you are a Pheasant hunter – now is the time to sign up for the Royal Hunt Club. The Royal Hunt Club offers access to approximately 25,000 of private property. This year 700 birds will be incrementally released throughout the season on Saturdays. The cost is $300.00 per hunter for the season. Call MarDon Resort at 509-346-2651 to get your application.

Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.

A nice mixed bag of Potholes Reservoir walleye and bluegill!

Dian Arnold with a nice 3-pound Smallmouth bass from one of the Seep Lakes!

Paul Verhey of Royal City shows a Largemouth bass caught trolling a Berkley Flicker Shad in the Crab Creek area on the Potholes Reservoir.

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WDFW News – Anglers Limited to one Hatchery Steelhead in the lower Hanford Reach.

Action: Reduces the daily limit to one hatchery steelhead when the fishery opens Oct. 1. Anglers must release all steelhead other than hatchery steelhead marked by both an adipose and right ventral fin clip.

Effective date: Oct. 1 until further notice.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Location: Columbia River, from Highway 395 Bridge (Kennewick/Pasco) upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite.

Reason for action: The run-size has been reduced to 92,800 A/B Index steelhead from the pre-season forecast of 182,400 fish. Reducing the daily limit to one Ringold Springs- origin hatchery steelhead (those marked by both an adipose and right ventral fin clip), will help to ensure hatchery broodstock collection goals are met while still allowing anglers steelhead fishing opportunity.

Additional information: Steelhead released from Ringold Springs Hatchery have both a clipped adipose fin and a clipped right ventral fin. This unique mark (clips) allows these steelhead to be differentiated from upper Columbia River and Snake River steelhead and allows these steelhead to be selectively harvested.

Information contact: Paul Hoffarth, District 4 Fish Biologist, (509) 545-2284.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 9 / 26 / 2018

The nonselective ocean coho season is now officially over with last Friday’s opener. Anglers could have fished for four to six hours on Saturday without exceeding the quota, but I cannot, and I am pretty sure that the ODFW cannot, figure out how to make partial-day openers work – which is why they never have them.

Currently only chinook salmon of at least 24-inches in length are legal to keep while salmon fishing in the ocean.

Some wildly optimistic anglers continue to think there will be a nonselective coho season in coastal rivers, but there hasn’t been one in several years and without a major improvement in coho numbers – there may never again be a nonselective coho season for coastal rivers.

The coho seasons that run from Oct. 1st through December on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes are nonselective seasons that allow the taking of either wild or finclipped coho salmon. Throughout October, November and December, second rod licenses are invalid on these three lakes – even though these lakes almost never have salmon in them on Oct. 1st.

Salmon are showing up in increasing numbers in the “mud hole” at the mouth of Winchester Creek – but have not yet started biting well. In the last few weeks Osprey Point has been far more productive than Half Moon Bay in giving up keeper salmon to spinner flinging bank anglers. A bassfishing friend of mine caught a salmon the first time he fished a “Rattletrap” at Winchester Bay.

A few chinook salmon are starting to show up at Sawyer’s Rapids and if this year’s fishing is anything like previous years’, the bite will be an early morning one. The aerated water immediately below chute does allow the salmon to be somewhat more active. The cohos that reach Sawyers seem to hold on the far, or north side, of the large shallow pool just downstream from Sawyer’s Rapids. Only finclipped coho salmon are legal to keep in Oregon’s coastal rivers.

October trout plants are not yet listed on the ODFW website, but last October, Upper Empire Lake, Saunders Lake, Butterfield Lake and Bradley Lake all received trout plants.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to be good, but “A” Dock was closed to crabbing. The reason for the closure was because a boat returning after dark couldn’t use the moorage space they paid for because of unattended crab traps left overnight.

Salmon Harbor, trying to do the right thing, relented slightly a few days later, and clearly marked an area at the very end of the dock where people could crab – but only while they were watching their crab gear. The current policy is that unattended pots or traps on “A” Dock will be confiscated.

Recreational ocean crabbing will close on October 15th and remain closed through November.

Bottomfishing in marine waters deeper than 180 feet is slated to reopen on Oct. 1st. Cabezon are still under an emergency closure.

An angler who caught a couple of jumbo pile perch last September while fishing with sand shrimp on the western side of Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin stated that there are pile perch there this year that dwarf the pile perch caught last fall – and pile perch to three and a half pounds were caught last fall.

Concerning the Wickiup Reservoir disaster, factors outside of human control were lack of rainfall and lack of snowpack. But the rate of water withdrawal could have been greatly lessened – if not for an agreement to release enough water to protect the habitat of the black spotted frog. The agreement mandated water releases sufficient to drain the reservoir during years with minimal snowpack.

Last week, juvenile kokanee were observed swimming in large numbers near the dam and being heavily preyed upon by fish-eating birds including white pelicans. The reservoir’s rainbow, brown and brook trout have two choices – either drop down through the dam, which doesn’t have a screen, or swim upstream until they find some deeper, slower-moving water. Hopefully, they will choose the latter.

As for the fish that drop down through the dam, they will heavily impact the resident trout and whitefish in the Deschutes River. A Bend biologist I talked to, said that the river doesn’t have the proper food for kokanee and they will almost certainly perish before reaching suitable water in Lake Billy Chinook – which is more than 50 river miles downstream. Although there will be many obstacles, Billy Chinook will almost certainly receive some of Wickiup’s largemouth bass and brown bullhead catfish. The Deschutes River below the dam may offer decent bassfishing next summer

In future years, Wickiup Reservoir or the Deschutes River will continue to receive some warmwater fish from Crane Prairie Reservoir. But warmwater fish populations won’t build unless there is some slackwater water in the reservoir in the fall and winter. Sad facts about the once great reservoir is that it won’t be a decent bass fishery in my lifetime and it may never regain the honor of being Oregon’s top spot for lunker brown trout.

It remains to be seen how much havoc the hundreds of thousands of fish in the reservoir’s ten thousand surface acres (when full) will cause after being forced into the Deschutes River below the dam.

Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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ODFW Seeking Input on 2 Proposed Changes to the Columbia River Subarea Sport Halibut Fishery For 2019.

In September, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) forwarded two proposed changes to the Columbia River Subarea all-depth sport halibut fishery for 2019. One proposal is to change the start date, the other is to change the number of days open each week.

ODFW has set up an online survey to get input on those two proposals. The survey should take about 5 minutes, and will help ODFW staff develop recommendations to the Council at their November meeting. To access the survey click here , or copy and then paste the following into your browser:

https://oregondas.allegiancetech.com/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.dll?idx=4HGJ96

The Council is not proposing any changes to the Central Oregon Coast (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) or Southern Oregon (Humbug Mt. to OR/CA Border) Subareas for 2019.

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Columbia River Reopens to Salmon Fishing.

Effective September 24 until further notice, angling and retention of Chinook and hatchery coho is allowed. Retention of steelhead remains prohibited.
All other permanent regulations apply.

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September 21st is National Hunting and Fishing Day.

First proclaimed in 1972 by President Richard Nixon.

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WDFW News – WDFW Schedules Controlled Burns in Two South Sound Wildlife Areas.

Starting Sept. 24, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will be conducting controlled burns for habitat restoration on two wildlife areas in the South Puget Sound region.

The burns are scheduled through mid-October at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area northeast of Rochester and the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area northwest of Tenino.

Darric Lowery, WDFW wildlife area manager, said the burns are weather dependent, and will be conducted for one to three days in each area. The areas targeted for burning are small, varying in size from one to 10 acres.

“Portions of the wildlife areas may be closed during the burns, and people may see smoke from the fires for one to two hours after the burns,” Lowery said. “We will be working to minimize smoke impacts to homes and the surrounding community.”

WDFW is working cooperatively with Washington Department of Natural Resources, fire districts, and other partners, utilizing professional fire crews experienced with successfully conducting controlled burns on public and private lands in the region.

Lowery said the department uses prescribed fire to maintain native grassland habitats, also known as prairies, and control invasive weeds before seeding and planting native species.

Coastal prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington, now reduced to less than 3 percent of their former area. They support a large number of rare plants and animals, including birds, animals, and butterflies, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered species.

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Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Recreation Report

The fishing on the Potholes Reservoir continues to be very good with the cooing water temps. The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1027.33 feet – rising .13 feet this past week. The water temperature on the main Reservoir is right at 63 degrees. The water level should remain close to this level for the next 3 ½ weeks.
The Largemouth bass bite continues to be strong. Both Largemouth and Smallmouth are along the face of the dunes, and along the face of the dam. Some anglers are finding bigger fish in the 15-20-foot range. Top baits for Largemouth include – the SPRO Rock Crawler crank bait, Wacky Rigged Senkos and Skirted Heart Throb XL’s fished on a 1/2th oz. football head and fishing a drop shot rig. Smallmouth are being caught on the rock piles off Goose Island and along the face of the dam as well as around the face of the dunes. Use Flicker Shads, 3½” tubes, swimbaits, drop shot baits and Senkos for the Smallmouth.
The walleye bite continued to improve this past week. Fish the humps in front of the sand dunes and around the rocks on Gooses Island. Troll #5 or #7 Flicker Shads and Strike King Walleye Elites and Bonsai Shads or Rapalas along the face of the dunes in 5-15 feet of water and in the same depths around Goose Island. Troll Smile Blade/Slow Death rigs fished behind a 2-ounce bottom walker around the deeper mid-lake humps in the 15-25 foot depth range as well. Use extreme caution boating and fishing between Goose Island and the face of the dam. There are rock hazards that are difficult to see until it is too late!
The trout fishing on the Potholes Reservoir is picking up with the cooler water temperatures. Trout fishers have been catching trout trolling #5 and # 7 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps.
The crappie fishing continues to be great throughout the Reservoir. Big crappies are being caught trolling #5 Flicker Shads and #5 Rapala Shad Raps along the face of the dunes, and jigging VMC Probe jigs and Wingdings. The MarDon Resort dock continues to fish well. Fish Trout Magnets and Gulp Alive Minnows off the dock on a 1/64th oz. jig head. Big bluegills are being caught around the mouth of Crab Creek. A few perch are being caught off the dock and around Goose Island and the mouth of Crab Creek. Fishing from the MarDon Dock is reserved for registered guests only.
Both Channel Catfish and Yellow Bullhead fishing has been very good over the past couple of weeks. We have had several Channel Cats in the 8-15lb. caught off the MarDon Dock during the 14th annual MarDon Resort Marathon Dock Tournament. Anglers have been trolling walleye rigs with crawlers in the dunes, on the face of the dunes and around Goose Island. Bank fishermen have been doing well on Cats in Lind Coulee and at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway using Magic Bait Catfish Nuggets and Crawlers.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.

Dave Meseberg of MarDon Resort caught this beautiful Potholes Reservoir walleye trolling a crank bait over mid-lake humps.

Terri Lynn Kassik Snider caught a nice Rainbow Trout while trolling on the Potholes Reservoir with her husband Jim.

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