Monthly Archives: November 2018

WDFW News – Section of Wallace River to Open for Gamefish.

Action: Opens gamefish season. Dolly varden/bull trout: min. size 20”-inches, may be retained as part of trout daily limit. Other trout: min. size 8-inches, except cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout – min. size 14-inches”. Trout daily limit: 2. Other gamefish, statewide min. size/daily limit.

Fishing from a floating device is prohibited.

Effective date: Dec. 1, 2018 through Feb. 15, 2019.

Species affected: Gamefish.

Location: Wallace River from 200 feet downstream of the water intake to 200 feet upstream of the salmon hatchery water intake.

Reason for action: Wallace Hatchery salmon broodstock goals have been met and the hatchery weir is open and passable to fish. The return of steelhead is forecast to be sufficient to provide harvestable opportunity.

Additional information: The Wallace River below and above this section remains open as described in the WDFW Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Hatchery grounds are closed dusk through 7 a.m. daily.

Salmon fishing in the Wallace River remains closed.

To ensure future generations of fish, please avoid stepping on existing redds while fishing.

Information contact: WDFW Region 4 Mill Creek Office, (425) 775-1311.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 28 / 2018

As in most years, a lot is happening around December 1st.

(1) -The 2019 fishing regulation booklets should be available at licensing retailers, tackleshops and sporting goods stores. (2) – ODFW licenses and tags for 2019 should become available for purchase at your regular license retailers – or online. (3) – The new online ODFW licensing system should go into effect (expect major glitches.) (4) – Recreational ocean crabbing resumes – although the commercial crabbers have delayed their season opener until December 15th because of low meat percentage in recently tested crabs.

NOAA Fisheries approved Oregon’s request to lethally remove up to 93 sea lions per year at Willamette Falls where the pinnipeds are eating as much as 25 percent of wild winter steelhead adults and up to 9 percent of wild spring chinook, both threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Sea lions are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, but after trying hazing and non-lethal removal of the California sea lions for years to discourage them from hanging out at Willamette Falls, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife last year applied to NOAA for authorization to lethally remove a limited number of California sea lions under a MMPA Section 20 permit. The ODFW applied for the permit Oct.6, 2017, and this August NOAA convened an 18-member Willamette Falls Pinniped Task Force that in an Oct. 15 recommendation said the permit should be authorized.

Oregon filed for the application because its analyses showed that the high levels of predation by sea lions (25 percent of the steelhead run in 2017) meant there was an almost 90 percent probability that one of the upper Willamette steelhead runs would go extinct, according to an ODFW news release. The level of predation on spring chinook, although lower (7-9 percent each year), was still enough to increase the extinction risk by 10-15 percent.

“This is good news for the native runs of salmon and steelhead in the Willamette River,” said Dr. Shaun Clements, ODFW policy analyst on the sea lion issue. “Before this decision, the state’s hands were tied as far as limiting sea lion predation on the Willamette River. We did put several years’ effort into non-lethal deterrence, none of which worked. The unfortunate reality is that, if we want to prevent extinction of the steelhead and chinook, we will have to lethally remove sea lions at this location.”

Clements said the permit to lethally remove California sea lions does not apply to the much larger steller sea lions, which are present at the Falls in growing numbers and that prey to a large extent on white sturgeon in the Willamette River. “Steller sea lions are preying heavily on sturgeon in the lower Willamette, but current federal law prohibits us from doing anything about that,” said Clements.

California sea lions in the U.S. are not listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The most recent population estimate for the sea lions in the U.S. was 296,750 animals in 2016.

An angler in Lake Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake in eastern Washington caught a 47.5 inch, 27.5 pound northern pike in the lake and another angler caught a pike just 10 miles from the rim of Grand Coulee Dam, which forms the lake, – much further downstream than previous sightings of the predatory fish.

Biologists, as well as Northwest Power and Conservation Council members, are feeling an urgency to keep the pike from moving downstream beyond the dam and into the anadromous zone where, as a voracious and fast growing predator, they could threaten endangered salmon and steelhead.

A hot subject last week on one of the online fishing sites was an individual being cited for keeping a crab limit for the two year old he was supervising. The numerous comments regarding the post were almost evenly mixed and most negative comments were about taking children along strictly to achieve a larger legal limit. The other side stated that if the young children were being taught how to identify crab gender, baiting the traps, or any other type of “slight help” – they should be allowed to keep their limit – even if they are too small to actually pull or empty the crab-catching devices being used.

The key thing to remember is that the enforcement people you will be dealing with are not identical clones and may have varying opinions of what constitutes “compliance”. If a regulation is viewed as being consistently abused – count on it being changed.

We’ve received a fair amount of rain in the last several days and could certainly use more, but the rain we have received, combined with some very high tides, has allowed some good things to happen. Coho salmon can now enter and navigate Tenmile Creek to reach the lakes; Tahkenitch Lake should receive some new cohos and there should be enough water coming down the Siltcoos River to make the fish ladder usable – should they close the dam gates again.

Hopefully when the cohos reach the tributaries of these lakes, their usual spawning sites will still be viable.

Farther south, the Elk, Sixes and possibly Floras Creek should have chinooks in them and they should be able reach the upper portions of these rivers.

It also appears that the rains came before the more shallow sand dunes lakes near North Bend, like Horsfall and Beale suffered a fish kill – or major population shrinage.

Locally, crabbing is not yet over in coastal rivers and bays, but the most productive crabbing will move closer to the ocean as river flows increase.

With the possible exception of the Umpqua River, it’s still a little early for winter steelhead.

Butterfield Lake and Saunders Lake should be the top bets for uncaught planted trout. But anglers willing to travel might consider Junction City Pond which is located on the west side of Highway 99 between Eugene and Junction City. The eight acre pond is heavily planted all winter long and gets some broodstock fish that can weigh more than eight pounds.

Pete 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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WDFW News – WDFW Seeks Comments on Proposal to List State’’s Abalone as Endangered.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is soliciting any available data on the pinto abalone, and are seeking public comment on a proposal to list the mollusk as a state endangered species.

Pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), also known as the northern abalone, are the only abalone found in Washington state. Long prized as a delicacy, these sea snails have also been valued for their cultural importance, their role in the marine ecosystem, and their iridescent shells.

Research conducted by WDFW between 1992 and 2017 revealed a decline of more than 97 percent in the species’ abundance in the San Juan Islands, a region of historically healthy populations. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) listed pinto abalone as a “species of concern” in 2004.

WDFW will conduct public meetings on the proposed state listing in:

Port Townsend – Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.
Anacortes – Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Anacortes Public Library, at 1220 10th St.
The public can also submit comments and information about the species to Michael Ulrich at WDFW via email to, by phone (360-902-2737), or mail at Fish Program, P.O. Box 43200 Olympia, WA 98504-3200.

“Pinto abalone are the focus of a concerted restoration effort by state, federal, tribal, and other partners such as the Puget Sound Restoration Fund in Washington,” said Hank Carson, a WDFW research scientist. “Our goal is to halt the decline of abalone populations and return them to sustainable levels.”

Carson said abalone populations have been declining for decades on the Pacific coast and throughout the world. The pinto abalone’s specific habitat and distribution in relatively shallow water makes them particularly vulnerable to harvest, he said.

Commercial fishing for the species has never been authorized in Washington state, he said, and WDFW closed recreational fishing in abalone in 1994 after continued decline in the abalone population.

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CDFW News – Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delayed in Northern California.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a memo today delaying the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delay includes Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties).

The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec.16, 2018 pending another round of test results tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.

“Last season, the northern Dungeness crab fishery was delayed until Jan. 15, the latest a quality delay can be extended,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz. “Results from our recent test are very similar to last year indicating that this delay may be extended past Dec. 16.”

If the next round of quality tests remain low, the CDFW Director has the authority to delay the season an additional 15 days until Dec. 31. Under new legislation, CDFW can continue testing until Jan. 15.

Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. If results indicate poor crab quality, the CDFW director may delay the fishery under authority of Fish and Game Code Section 8276.2.

The southern Dungeness crab fishery opened on Nov. 15, except for the area from the southern boundary of Bodega Head State Marine Reserve, Sonoma County (38° 18′ N. latitude) north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (38° 46.125′ N. latitude) which was delayed due to domoic acid. Upon a recommendation from health agencies that domoic acid no longer poses a risk to public health, the CDFW director may provide a minimum 72-hours’ notice before the gear-setting period and avoid a gear set date that lands on state and federal holidays.

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California Outdoors Q&A’s

Question: I’m new to hunting and would like to try to bag a turkey this fall. Most of the information I’ve read about turkey hunting seems to be specific to the spring season. Are there different techniques or approaches I should use for a fall hunt? (Emmy)

Answer: Congratulations on obtaining your license! There has been a fall wild turkey hunting season in California since 1968. The fall turkey hunt is for either sex, and hunting techniques are indeed quite different from a spring gobbler hunt. One of the more successful techniques is to locate and break up a fall brood flock, position yourself where they were, and call them back. Locating a brood flock often requires a great deal of time, but local hunters and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel can assist you with information on flock locations.

Large brood flocks, which are made up of hens and their young of the year, leave signs similar to those of spring turkeys, but on a larger scale. Look for tracks, droppings and the telltale feeding areas with oak leaves scratched in lines. Fall brood flocks are quite vocal, so listen for turkey talk as you scout for the flock. Once a flock is located, a good break-up of the flock is mandatory for a successful hunt with this technique. Many hunters rush the flock, shouting and waving their arms to startle the flock into scattering (remember, do not run with a loaded gun in your hands!) In many turkey ranges in California, the rocky terrain makes it dangerous to run at the flocks. A well-trained dog can be used to break up the flock, but must be hidden in a blind during the hunt or removed from the hunt area. After you have broken up the flock, locate a calling site near the point of the break up. Wait about one-half hour or until you hear birds calling before you start to call them.

The most frequently used call in the fall is the “kee kee run” or lost bird call. It is a high pitched “kee kee kee” in a series, usually followed by a yelp or two. Another call to try is a hen assembly call. This is the call of an adult hen gathering her flock. It is a long series of yelps rising slightly in volume and pitch and then declining in volume and pitch. Hens will often use a series of 15 to 20 yelps for a gathering call. YouTube videos are a great way to familiarize yourself with the different calls. Research and practice will definitely improve your chances of a successful hunt!

Question: Why doesn’t California plant Walleye and Lake Perch in Southern California? The lakes are deep enough, and these fish are tasty. I’m from Michigan and I’ve been here two years. We’re missing out! (Floyd)

Answer: Currently only Salmonids (that is, trout and salmon) are raised and released by CDFW. In fact, increasingly it is primarily native trout and salmon that are raised in our hatchery system – species that have been in California for hundreds of thousands of years. However, in addition to native salmonids, CDFW also raises and plants non-native brown trout, brook trout and Kokanee Salmon. Introducing non-native species to most ecosystems, though, almost always has unintended consequences that disrupt the balance of nature.

California has more native trout and salmon species than any other state. These fish are fun to catch, excellent to eat, and support ecosystems and tribal, recreational and commercial fisheries. In the past, the State of California did raise and release non-native sportfish (catfish and striped bass) for recreational angling, and currently there are several introduced fisheries in the state (for example, large and small mouth bass, crappie, blue gill, catfish and striped bass). There are sport fisheries for these introduced species that are self-sustaining, so we don’t need to stock them.

Walleye were planted in California waters between 1959-1963. But the anticipated angler benefits did not develop, so the program was abandoned. Thus, while it’s unlikely that Walleye will ever be stocked in California waters again, the Sacramento Perch (California’s only native sunfish) is an excellent sportfish and CDFW fisheries managers are open to seeing more of them in the wild, both for conservation and recreational fishery purposes. While we don’t have the Sacramento Perch in our hatcheries at this moment, it is an idea of interest and certainly not out of the realm of possibility for the future!

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Recreation Report

The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1037.36 feet – rising .46 feet this past week. The water level has come up 10.65 feet since low pool on September 14, 2018. The water temperature on the Reservoir has dropped to the low 40s over the past week. Ice is forming in the shallower water in the sand dunes up to an inch thick.
Very few anglers on the water this week. Blade bait and jigs are your best bet for walleye this time of year. Vertically jig blade baits or a jig head with a 4 or 5” curl tail grub in 25-50 feet of water. Look for deeper humps and habitat boxes.
A few bass are being caught on the humps in front of the dunes and along the face of the dam. Hula grubs, Drop Shot rigs, Blade Baits and swim baits in 5-20 feet of water are the baits to throw for both Largemouth and Smallmouth bass. Fish habitat boxes and along the face of the dam. For Smallmouth – fish the face of the dam and the rocks around Goose Island.
Trout anglers are concentrating on the Medicare beach area either trolling wedding ring rigs with a worm or Needlefish. From shore – fish Power Bait or a marshmallow/egg combination.
We had a good push of birds come into the area this past week with several groups limiting on ducks back in the sand dunes. There are a lot of geese in the area as well.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.

Levi Meseberg with the ACI Group out of Coeur d’Alene after a successful goose hunt this week!

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Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 21 / 2018

The coastal lakes coho fisheries are hurting. Tahkenitch Lake is the only one having anything resembling a normal season. The dam on the Siltcoos River outlet has only been open for short time periods due to low stream flows and salmon fishing has been poor. Coho fishing at Tenmile Lakes has been very poor as the salmon are having a very difficult time getting into and then ascending Tenmile Creek.

Yellow perch and rainbow trout are available to anglers on all three lakes although Tenmile is the only one of the three lakes having much fishing pressure directed at these fish species. On a down note, second rod licenses are not valid during the salmon seasons (Oct. 1st – Dec. 31st) on these lakes.

We are definitely in a drought situation and unless it changes soon – there will be very little successful spawning in the tributaries of these lakes this year.

The “Band-Aid” approach toward correcting fishery-related problems can only go do far. It does little good to flood the ocean with hatchery smolts when there isn’t enough forage to allow for rapid growth – a major factor in survival rates.

As for crabs and clams, toxin-related closures are now an every-year occurence – Winchester Bay was the only port on the entire Oregon coast that didn’t have a crabbing closure last year. Fish and shellfish dieoffs due to oxygen-free zones in both marine anf freshwater locations is an every year occurence. Dealing with pollution-related issues in a state with a growing population is very difficult – but Oregon could do a much better job than they have done during the last few years.

Worth looking up occassionally is the website for the Wildlife Division of the Oregon State Police. The website mentions numerous cases and reading through them can give outdoor sportsmen a better idea of possible outdoor-related violations. Some of the more “informative” cases are:

The Roseburg F & and W team completed a lengthy investigation into the unlawful taking of black bears with the use of bait during the 2018 SW Oregon Spring Bear Season. Troopers received information of suspicious activity in the Indigo Unit during the month of May. During the investigation, Troopers located two bear bait stations. Troopers served two search warrants on trail cameras that were seized from the bear bait stations. Troopers were able to identify two subjects associated with the bear bait stations. On August 4th Troopers interviewed the two subjects and obtained confessions. The subjects were criminally cited for Unlawful Take of Black Bear with the Use of Bait, Hunting Bear with the Use of Bait and Aiding/Counseling in a Wildlife Offense. Troopers seized two black bear hides, black bear meat and a rifle as evidence.

A F&W Trooper received a call regarding five elk being shot by three male subjects. Troopers responded to the location. Subsequent to an interview, a male subject admitted he shot an elk for himself and an elk for his wife. Ultimately three male subjects killed five elk but only had three tags. It was unknown which male subject killed the fifth elk as they were all shooting into a herd of an estimated 100 elk. The Troopers seized two elk and a rifle as evidence. The male subject who killed the two elk was cited for Lend, Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag and Take/ Possession of Antlerless Elk. The female was cited for Lend, Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag. The two other male subjects were both cited for Aiding/Counseling in a Wildlife Offense.

A F&W Trooper was working an evening shellfish patrol on Nehalem Bay when he contacted a group of subjects crabbing from the Wheeler City dock at dusk. The subjects were just leaving and had a white cooler with them. When asked to show their catch the subjects revealed 20 male Dungeness crab, 18 of which were measured and found to be undersize by at least an inch. Two subjects were cited for Take/Possession of Undersize Dungeness Crab. One subject gave the Trooper a Washington Driver’s license and a resident shellfish license. The subject was additionally cited for Falsely Applied for License or Tag.

F&W Troopers from the Tillamook Office and members of the Marine Fisheries Team had been working the Cape Kiwanda area for several weeks in regards to a complaint of illegal fishing activity that had been occurring on a regular basis. OneTrooper was able to locate a pickup truck and boat trailer on the beach at Cape Kiwanda that was associated with a dory boat that had been allegedly poaching halibut. The Trooper waited a lengthy period of time as the vessel was one of the last dory’s to leave the beach that evening. The boat was finally contacted with three male subjects on board and a routine check of catch, license, and tags was done. All three subjects were asked about the catch and all told the same story about catching one halibut and one ling cod and how fishing was a little slow that day. The captain was informed by the Trooper that OSP had received a tip there were occasionally extra fish hidden in his boat. A consent search was requested and the captain stated very casually that he had nothing to hide and that fishing had been slow and to go ahead and search the boat. The Trooper noticed one of the three red marine gas tanks was not plumbed with fuel lines to the outboard motor. The whole top of the red steel tank slid off revealing a big stack of 8 fresh halibut fillets on ice sitting in a handmade plastic container with a plywood bottom. The captain was criminally cited for Exceeding the Bag Limit Halibut, Possession of Mutilated Fish, and Failure to Validate Harvest Card. The two crew members were each cited criminally for Aiding/Counseling in a Wildlife Offense. The gas tank and Halibut fillets were seized. The Halibut fillets were donated to the Tillamook County Justice Facility.

A subject had purchased 160 pounds of recreationally caught tuna from an angler from Brookings and then sold the tuna to others. The subject was found guilty of selling sport caught tuna (criminal) with a fine amount of $2000 and purchasing sport caught tuna (violation) with a fine amount of $200. The subject who had sold the recreationally caught tuna had already pled guilty, his angling privileges were suspended for 18 months, and he was fined $1300 of which $800 went to ODFW as restitution for the tuna.

A good example that dealing with the OSP is not always a bad thing occurred when F&W Troopers assisted two families with disabled vehicles east of Prineville in the Ochoco’s. Both vehicles had tire issues, one with two flats. The troopers assisted the family with changing one tire and used a portable air compressor to inflate a slow leak in the other tire. They allowed the dad to take the air compressor with him to ensure he could re-inflate the tire if needed as they limped back home to Redmond. A hand shake was exchanged for the Trooper’s equipment to be returned after the family got safely home.

Pete 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 News – Upcoming Free Fishing Days, Not Free Fishing Weekend.

The upcoming Free Fishing Days will fall on November 23rd and 24th and that is the Friday and Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving and not the usual Saturday and Sunday of other Free Fishing Days. Fishing, crabbing and clamming is free and if you are fishing for salmon or steelhead, you don’t even need a combined angling tag (salmon tag).


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Winchester Bay Lingcod Update.

Although Winchester Bay’s South Jetty has been offering fair to good lingcod angling, guided trips and private parties able to reach “Tenmile Reef” are having sensational fishing success. The series of reefs that harbor the lingcod and rockfish is approximately nine miles west and slightly south of the Umpqua River Bar and slightly more than 300 feet (50 fathoms) below the surface.

Recently, the lingcod seem to be getting larger and fatter.

Lots of good eating ahead. This catch is pretty much the norm for Bryan Gill and “The Umpqua Angler”.

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CDFW News – Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure Lifted in State Waters Around Anacapa Island.

On Friday, November 16th,the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the commercial spiny lobster fishery closure in state waters around Anacapa Island, Ventura County as recommended by state health agencies.

According to the memo from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, analysis of spiny lobster samples by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) laboratories indicates that spiny lobster taken from this area no longer pose a significant human health risk due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The commercial spiny lobster fishery is now open statewide and the CDPH advisory to recreational anglers has been lifted.

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