Monthly Archives: March 2019

WDFW News – Feeding Wildlife can do more harm than good.

Winter is suffering its last gasp in Washington but heavy snow loads in many areas mean food will be hard to come by for wildlife for a while still. Despite the record snow levels, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists ask you to please not feed the wildlife, saying deer, elk, moose and other animals are biologically adapted to survive the winter without food provided by humans. 

“People may want to feed deer, elk, moose and other animals to help during these leaner times,” said Kristin Mansfield, a veterinarian with WDFW, “But artificial feeding can actually do more harm than good.”

Deer in good condition generally can survive winter on limited natural food supplies. It can take several weeks for a deer’s digestive system to adjust to hay or other artificial feed. Without enough fat reserves to get through the adjustment period, deer can die even with bellies full of feed they can’t digest. 

Feeding can also draw animals into areas near roads, leading to collisions with vehicles, Mansfield said. It also concentrates animals, making them more vulnerable to disease, predators and poaching. In addition, it can make wild animals too comfortable around humans and, in some cases, aggressive.

The best way to help wildlife in winter is to avoid disturbing them, allowing them to conserve vital energy. This includes keeping dogs confined and slowing down while traveling in motor vehicles through wildlife habitat. 

WDFW does use feeding, along with extensive fencing, at three Wildlife Areas in south-central Washington to help keep elk and bighorn sheep off adjacent private property where they may cause damage or contract diseases from domestic animals. 

“We feed in select cases for specific reasons,” Mansfield said, “But it’s neither effective nor desirable to feed wildlife on a broad scale.” 

Wildlife biologists acknowledge that extreme winter conditions takes a toll on some populations. But that is just a fact of nature, according to Mansfield. 

“Winter is the season of greatest stress for wildlife populations, especially animals experiencing their first winter,” she said. “People can’t change that, and it can create problems when they try to do so.” 

General information on winter wildlife feeding is available on the WDFW website at

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More Columbia River Northern Pike.

These Northern Pike from Roosevelt Lake in Washington appear to be very well fed.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 13 / 2019.

Heavy rains and muddy access delayed the trout plant scheduled for Johnson Mill Pond near Coquille. The trout will be stocked later at a slightly larger size.

Trout plants scheduled for this week include: Alder Lake (793 trout including 332 legals and 461 trophies); Buck Lake (702 trout including 566 legals and 136 trophies): Carter Lake (750 trophies); Cleawox Lake (3,161 trophies);  Dune Lake (702 trout including 566 legals and 136 trophies); Elbow Lake (1,400 trophies);  Lost Lake (400 trophies);  Mercer Lake (1,500 trophies);  Munsel Lake (2,400 trophies);  North Georgia Lake (300 legals and 75 trophies);  Siltcoos Lake (1,000 trophies) and  Woahink Lake (1,000 trophies).

Very few of the 2,000 legal-sized rainbows dumped into Loon Lake last week have been caught by anglers and cold water temperatures have slowed the catch rate on virtually every lake that has been stocked with trout. With warmer weather, the trout bite will improve. Probably the quickest trout fishery to respond will be Mingus Park Pond. This two acre, two foot deep pond will only need one warm day to greatly improve “fishingwise”.

Other areas have been cold, as well. Bend had nearly 46-inches of snow in February – nearly doubling a monthly record that dates back more than a 100 years and last month was the third coldest February on record for Bend. But January was the third warmest ever.

The first keepable spring chinook was pulled from the Rogue River last week. The finclipped fish weighed about 25 pounds. As I am writing this on Sunday, no springers have yet been reported from the Umpqua River. A few anglers have started casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay in Winchester Bay. When they hook their first springer they will have plenty of company.

The South Jetty at Winchester Bay fished very well for lingcod last week with fish weighing more than ten pounds taken. Favorite colors have been all over the board – which leads me to believe that the main thing when targeting lingcod is to get a sizable lure – any color sizable lure close to one of these very aggressive fish. If you believe you are using the right lure and color pattern – you will tend to fish it better

Striped surfperch are also biting well off the South Jetty and some greenling are also being caught. Cabezon are still closed, but the state of Washington recently determined that their cabezon population is healthy and growing – which should should be encouraging news to Oregon’s bottomfish anglers.

The cold water temperatures have likely extended the spawning cycle for yellow perch. In most years, the spawn is pretty much over by mid-March, but this year’s spawn will likely extend past the end of March.

Fishing pressure directed at largemouth bass is gradually increasing, despite the cold temperatures, but almost all of the bassboats seem to be headed to Tenmile Lake.

One early season bassfishing technique that I believe in, but find hard to implement is to target reservoirs that are drawn down in the fall and winter months as late as I can in the spring  – just before they begin filling up. Before the reservoir levels begin rising, many, if not most of the bass will be in the bottom end of the reservoir – in a greatly reduced amount of water.

Such bass fisheries include Cottage Grove Reservoir, Dorena Reservoir and Plat “I” Reservoir. I must warn you that unless you live near such a reservoir, it is really difficult to fine-tune this technique.

A Jury recently convicted two  charter boat Captains in a Washington state halibut “highgrading” case. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13.
The courtroom testimony of more than 25 witnesses and work by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police Officers and local prosecutors resulted in the convictions last Thursday, Feb. 28.
Charter customers testified that possession limits were exceeded; prior to leaving the fishing grounds and  concealed  by throwing overboard the smaller halibut, three of which had had their gills cut, and keeping the bigger halibut to ensure that the boat returned to port with only the legal limit. Witnesses testified that some halibut swam off, while others slowly sank. 

WDFW Officer Todd Dielman, who led the investigation, contacted more than 100 passengers who described similar experiences on multiple vessels. Passengers estimated that more than 70 halibut were retained and later thrown overboard for larger fish.

Researchers at the University of Washington have found that populations of whitetail deer and mule deer react differently when wolves are nearby. Perhaps this knowledge can, at some point, benefit deer hunters in wolf country.

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 – Public input sought on proposals for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries.

 Fish managers have developed options for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries that reflect concerns over chinook stocks and optimism about improved returns of coho projected this year. 

The three options for ocean salmon fisheries were approved Tuesday for public review by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. 

The three alternatives are designed to protect the low numbers of chinook expected to return to the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters this year, said Kyle Adicks, salmon fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“With these alternatives in hand, we will work with stakeholders to develop a final fishing package for Washington’s coastal and inside waters that meets our conservation objectives for wild salmon,” Adicks said. “Anglers can expect improved opportunities to fish for coho salmon compared to recent years while fishing opportunities for chinook likely will be similar to last year.”

Similar to 2018, this year’s forecast for Columbia River fall chinook is down roughly 50 percent from the 10-year average. About 100,500 hatchery chinook are expected to return to the lower Columbia River. Those fish – known as “tules” – are the backbone of the recreational ocean fishery. 

Meanwhile, fishery managers estimate 905,800 coho will return to the Columbia River this year, up 619,600 fish from the 2018 forecast. A significant portion of the Columbia River run of coho contributes to the ocean fishery. 

State fishery managers are working with tribal co-managers and NOAA Fisheries to take into account the dietary needs of southern resident orcas while developing salmon fishing seasons. The declining availability of salmon – southern resident orcas’ main source of prey – and disruptions from boating traffic have been linked to a downturn in the region’s orca population over the past 30 years.

“We will continue to assess the effects of fisheries on southern resident killer whales as we move towards setting our final fishing seasons in April,” Adicks said.

The options include the following quotas for recreational fisheries off the Washington coast:

Option 1: 32,500 chinook and 172,200 coho. Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) would open June 15 while marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport) would open June 22. All four areas would be open daily and La Push would have a late-season fishery under this option.

Option 2: 27,500 chinook and 159,600 coho. Marine areas 1, 3, and 4 would open daily beginning June 22 while Marine Area 2 would open daily beginning June 29. There would be no late-season fishery in Marine Area 3.

Option 3: 22,500 chinook and 94,400 coho. Marine areas 1, 3, and 4 would open daily beginning June 29 while Marine Area 2 would be open five days per week (Sunday through Thursday) beginning June 16. There would be no late-season fishery in Marine Area 3.

Fisheries may close early if quotas have been met. For more details about the options, visit PFMC’s webpage at, where information can be found about a March 25 public meeting in Westport on the three alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries.

Last year, the PFMC adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 27,500 chinook and 42,000 coho. 

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2019 salmon-fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those other fisheries. 

State and tribal co-managers will complete the final 2019 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with PFMC during its April meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif. 

Several additional public meetings are scheduled in March and April to discuss regional fisheries issues. The public will also soon be able to comment on proposed salmon fisheries through WDFW’s website at, where a list of scheduled public meetings can be found. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

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The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in consultation with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the State of Oregon, and the State of California met this evening in Vancouver, Washington and have taken the following in-season management action to the scheduled March
and April recreational ocean Chinook salmon openings off Oregon:

ACTION TAKEN:  The planned ocean Chinook salmon (all-salmon-except coho) season will open as scheduled from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. from March 15 through April 30, 2019.  The bag limit will be two salmon, except closed to retention of coho, with a minimum size of 24” for Chinook and a minimum size of 20” for steelhead.

RATIONALE:  The recreational ocean fishery off Oregon in March and April typically has very low effort and Chinook catch.  Fishery managers and industry representatives agreed that this opening would not create any difficulty in developing the remainder of the ocean seasons for the 2019 fishing year.  

Seasons from May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020 are currently being developed. Season alternatives will be reviewed and a final season recommendation made at the Pacific Fishery Management Council public meeting April 9-16 in Rohnert Park, California.

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CDFW News -Public Comment Sought on Statewide Regulation Changes of Trout Season.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will host a series of statewide meetings to inform the public and seek input on the proposed new statewide changes for trout fishing regulations.

 “The California Fish and Game Commission directed our department to make the regulations and seasons more simple and easy to understand, while continuing to protect and manage the state’s trout resources,” said Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager. “We look forward to explaining how these new changes came about, and how they could be implemented.”The meetings will focus on the following key areas:

  • Objectives of the new regulation framework and species management goals
  • Parameters of the regulation standardization and consolidation process 
  • Review of specific proposed changes to regulations

 CDFW personnel will be available at information stations to answer questions and listen to stakeholder interests, needs and ideas. All stakeholder input will be taken into consideration as a regulation simplification package is developed for formal public review through the California Fish and Game Commission. Meetings will be held on the following dates:Wednesday, March 20, 20196-8 p.m.Talman Pavilion, Tricounty Fairgrounds1234 Fair St., BishopWednesday, March 27, 20196-8 p.m.Redding Library Community Room, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding

Wednesday, April 3, 20196-8 p.m.Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno Saturday, April 6, 2019Noon-2 p.m.Bass Pro Shops, 7777 Victoria Gardens Lane, Rancho CucamongaWednesday, April 10, 20196-8 p.m. Colonial Heights Library Community Room, 4799 Stockton Blvd., SacramentoTuesday, April 23, 20196-8 p.m.Truckee-Tahoe Airport Community Room, 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee

More information is available at Meetings are in-person only and no conference line or webcast will be available.

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WDFW News – Jury Convicts Charter Boat Captains in Halibut Case.

The courtroom testimony of more than 25 witnesses and work by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police Officers and local prosecutors resulted in two charter boat convictions last Thursday, Feb. 28. 

After an eight-day trial in a Pacific County District Court room, David Gudgell 58, of Seaview was convicted of 10 counts of unlawful recreational fishing in the second degree, and one count of waste of fish and wildlife. His brother, Robert Gudgell, 57, of Longview was convicted of eight counts of unlawful recreational fishing in the second degree. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13.

WDFW Police Captain Dan Chadwick said the department began its eighteen-month investigation after a tip was received from several clients on the charter boat Westwind, working for Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco. The boat’s customers stated that during their trip, several small halibut were placed in a fish hold filled with water. Larger halibut were bled and put in a fish hold without water. 

Charter customers testified that possession limits were exceeded; prior to leaving the fishing grounds, David Gudgell and his deckhand concealed this by throwing overboard up to seven halibut, three of which had had their gills cut, keeping the bigger fish to ensure that the boat returned to port with only the legal limit. 

WDFW Officers then conducted another undercover fishing trip on a different vessel working out of the same Pacific Salmon Charter Office, which revealed similar violations. 

WDFW Officer Todd Dielman, who led the investigation, contacted more than 100 passengers who described similar experiences on multiple vessels. This included trips captained by Robert Gudgell on the charter boat Katie Marie. Passengers estimated that more than 70 halibut were retained and later thrown overboard for larger fish. 

Witnesses testified that some halibut swam off, while others slowly sank like a leaf falling from the sky.  

“This illegal activity is what we call called high-grading. It’s something we’re watching for and we rely on tips from the public; they were our eyes and ears on this one. The case would not have been possible without their testimony and the support of the community, including the many local charter boat captains who were appalled by this behavior,” Chadwick said. “We are very grateful for the efforts put forth by Pacific County Deputy Prosecutors Joe Faurholt and Ben Haslam who worked tirelessly on this case. We would also like to thank the witnesses who provided firsthand accounts of these violations.” 

Fishing for pacific halibut is a popular recreation activity, though according to officers this type of illegal behavior isn’t typical of ethical charter captains who recognize that their livelihoods depend upon sustainable fish populations. Officers point to how WDFW fishery managers work closely with the fishing industry to ensure quality opportunities for anglers along Washington’s Coast. They say that the regulations help to maintain access to this fishery for everyone.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police work to protect the state’s natural resources and the public they serve.

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WDFW News – Commission approves modifications to its Columbia River salmon fishery policy.

 The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has agreed to allow the use of gillnets during the fall salmon fishery on the lower Columbia River while state fishery managers work with their Oregon counterparts to develop a joint long-term policy for shared waters.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), took that action and received public comments on proposed hunting seasons for 2019-21 during a public meeting March 1-2 in Spokane.

The commission’s action to extend the use of gillnets was one of a number of recommendations for Columbia River fisheries developed by a joint committee with members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. Oregon’s full commission will also consider the recommendations when it meets later this month. 

Commissioners from both states are working on an overhaul of their respective Columbia River salmon management policies, which are designed to achieve conservation goals for salmon and steelhead, promote orderly fisheries in concurrent waters, and maintain and enhance economic stability in sport and commercial fisheries. 

The change in policy affects allowable commercial fishing gear and the allocation of catch between sport and commercial fisheries, among other adjustments. Conservation measures remain unchanged, and no additional fishing pressure was approved beyond the annual amount allowed in full compliance with all salmon and steelhead Endangered Species Act requirements and sustainable fishery management practices. 

The Washington policy, approved in 2013, intended for the commercial fishery to have completed a transition from gillnets to alternative gear this year and be relocated away from mainstem Columbia River areas. However, the use of alternative gear has not yet been refined and the off-channel areas have been determined to be unsuitable.  

The commission modified that policy in response to a comprehensive performance review conducted over the past year. Without that action, fishing rules for Washington and Oregon would have been incompatible, because Oregon plans to allow the use of gillnets during the upcoming fall season. 

The recommendation approved by the commission at the meeting in Spokane will allow commercial fisheries to proceed similar to 2018. A maximum of 70 percent of the fall chinook catch will be allocated to the recreational fishery, the same amount allocated under Oregon’s policy.

Washington commissioners also agreed to retain the recreational fishery’s share of 80 percent during the spring chinook fishery. The allocation for the commercial fishery was set at 20 percent with no commercial fishing in the mainstem Columbia River unless the in-season run-size update for upper river spring chinook is more than 129 percent of the pre-season forecast of 99,300 fish.

Additionally, the commission made the use of barbless hooks voluntary in Columbia River fisheries as soon as possible, but no later than June 1, 2019.

Five Washington commissioners voted to approve the recommendation: commissioners Kim Thorburn, Barbara Baker, Robert Kehoe, Donald McIsaac and Jay Holzmiller. Commissioner David Graybill voted “no,” and commissioners Bradley Smith and Larry Carpenter abstained.

Details of the motion that passed and more information on the Columbia River Policy Review can be found at

Prior to that decision, the commission was briefed by WDFW wildlife managers and accepted public comments on proposed hunting rules for deer, elk, waterfowl, and other game species. The commission is scheduled to take final action on those proposal at a public meeting April 5-6 in Olympia. 

For more information on the season-setting process see

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Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Recreation Report.

While winter is slow to give up its grip on the area this year, spring is right around the corner!

The Central Washington Fish Advisory Committee has been busy building fish habitat boxes this winter and they will be placed in the Potholes Reservoir once it is free of ice.

The MarDon Resort tackle store has been getting ready for the coming season – lots of new tackle arriving! We anticipate that the fishing will be outstanding this year based on the past two years.

New CWFAC  fish habitat boxes ready to be placed in the Potholes Reservoir as soon as it is ice-free!

The Sandhill Cranes will be arriving over the next several weeks. Take some time to drive thru the Columbia Basin Wildlife Refuge and surrounding fields to view these awesome birds as they pass through our area on their way to Southern Alaska. The Sandhill Crane festival is based out of Othello and will be held March 22, 23 & 24 of 2019.

There are a number of anglers ice fishing the Potholes Reservoir and the year around Seep Lakes. Reports of trout, a few perch and walleye are being caught in the Lind Coulee arm of the Reservoir. Make sure to check the regulations before fishing as many of the Seep Lakes have changed from a March 1 or April 1 opener to the 4thSaturday in April.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 06 / 2019

The major news this week is the number of highway closures that restricted travel plans and isolated some communities over the last two weeks. The good part of what is bad news is that we now have normal and above normal snow levels throughout Oregon – which doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of a late summer or fall drought, but does make such an occurrence far less likely.

The first spring chinook was reported taken from the Rogue River two weeks ago and according to “The Rogue Outdoor Store” in Gold Beach, three have been reported caught so far. None of them were lunkers and they were caught between five and 12 miles above Gold Beach. 
As for the Umpqua River, if anyone has caught a springer this year, they have not done a very good job of bragging about it. But if none have been caught yet, the first springer should be caught soon after the Umpqua River clears up.

Boat crabbers are still making decent catches at Half Moon Bay at Winchester Bay, but very few crabs are far enough up the Umpqua River to be within reach of dock crabbers.  A couple of the crabbing docks at Charleston are producing for dockbound crabbers.

Recreational crabbing is closed on the southern Oregon coast from Bandon to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes Dungeness and red rock crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crab harvesting from Bandon north to the Columbia River (including the Coquille River estuary) remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.

For recreational crab harvesters, it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking, which includes removal and discard of the viscera, internal organs, and gills. Because of Oregon’s precautionary management of biotoxins, the crab and shellfish products currently being sold in retail markets and restaurants are safe for consumers. Before clamming or crabbing, it’s always wise to call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty is still producing lingcod, greenling, rockfish and striped surfperch, but the recent nuddy water has slowed the bite. The water in the lower Umpqua River does clear up somewhat at high tide and if an angler fishing off the south side of the “Triangle” in the ocean would be fishing in water that is even more clear – and the water gets even clearer as one moves towad the beach.

An interesting sidenote regarding the Frostbite Open that was recently held on Tenmile Lake was that one boat landed at least three bass by casting to fish that were clearly visible. Getting multiple visible bass to bite in that cold water and light rain is an amazing and very rare accomplishment.

The cold weather and the resulting cold water temperatures has definitely slowed the trout bite. 

Trout plants over the next couple of weeks include lakes in the Roseburg, Florence and Newport areas.  Waters planted this week include: Garrison Lake (near Port Orford – 200 trophy trout); Ben Irving Reservoir (near Winston – 1,000 legals); Cooper Creek Reservoir (near Sutherlin – 2,500 legals); Galesville Reservoir(near Azalea – 2,500 trophy trout) and Loon Lake (near Reedsport – 2,000 legals).

Waters scheduled to be stocked next week include: Big Creek Reservoir #2 (near Newport – 3,200 trout – 1,200 legalks and 2,000 trophies); Buck Lake (near Florence – 702 trout – 566 legals and 135 trophies); Cleawox Lake (near Florence – 3,161 trophy trout); Eckman Lake (near Waldport – 666 legals); Mercer Lake (near Florence – 1,500 trophy trout); Siltcoos Lagoon (near Florence – 106 trophy trout) and Siltcoos Lake (near Florence – 1,000 trophy trout).

Cottage Grove and Dorena reservoirs, near Cottage Grove, are slated to be stocked next week with 1,667 and 1,500 trophy rainbows respectively – which if they are near full pool, works out to one planted rainbow per acre. The thousand rainbows going into Siltcoos Lake is less than one trout for every three surface acres.

An angler recently reported catching a small northern pike in Sturgeon Lake which is located on Sauvies Island in the lower Columbia River.
The fish could have been a tiger muskie from Mayfield Reservoir in Southwest Washington. More than a decade ago, one of these sterile hybrids managed to “escape” Mayfield Reservoir and swam down the Cowlitz River and across the Columbia River and into the Willamette River  where it was caught by an angler. The more than 30-inch fish weighed nine pounds and six ounces.

But the angler that caught the Sturgeon Lake fish was reported to be an experienced pike angler and if the fish was a northern pike it could be very bad news for the Columbia River. The presense of such a fish in the Portland area could mean that their impact could be a few years away and not decades away, as would be the threat of northerns migrating downstream from Washington’s Lake Roosevelt.

Good news is the report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that two rockfish species have signicantly increased in numbers. Increased numbers of canary rockfish and cabezon will likely result in more relaxed regulation on these species in the future.

Lake Taneycomo, a riverlike reservoir near Branson, Missouri enhanced its reputation as a producer of giant brown trout when it recently gave up a new state record brown weighing 34 pounds and ten ounces. The jumbo brown bit a sculpin-imitating jig.

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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