Author Archives: Pete Heley

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

January 20 Tenmile Lake Largemouths

Harry Bingham, the on-site mechanic at Lakeside Marina with a nice Tenmile Lake largemouth.

Dave Barnes with a winter largemouth from Tenmile Lakes.

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WDFW News – Simplified Fishing Regulations.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a package of simplified sportfishing rules for Washington’s rivers, streams and lakes during its Jan. 18-20 meeting in Ridgefield.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also was briefed on proposed updates to a management plan for harvesting Puget Sound chinook salmon.

Commissioners decided to continue to discuss – and potentially provide guidance on – the proposed Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan during a special conference call on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The commission will convene the call at 8:30 a.m.

The public can listen to the work session, but there will be no opportunity for public comment. More information about the call will be posted Monday on the commission’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2018/.

State and treaty tribal co-managers initially submitted the plan to NOAA Fisheries on Dec. 1, 2017. NOAA has already informed the state and treaty tribes that the plan is insufficient, noting that several key salmon stocks would not meet new — more restrictive — federal conservation objectives.

The plan is required by NOAA for the state and tribes to hold fisheries affecting wild Puget Sound chinook, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The proposed 10-year plan, along with feedback from NOAA, is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/chinook/.

During the meeting in Ridgefield, commissioners approved rules aimed at simplifying sportfishing regulations for freshwater species, including steelhead, trout, warmwater fish, sturgeon, shad and carp.

These rules – which apply to freshwater throughout the state, with some exceptions – will go into effect July 1, 2018. Some of the rules adopted by the commission include:

Reducing the number of exceptions to the year-round lake season.
Eliminating mandatory steelhead retention.
Standardizing the daily limit and minimum size requirements for bass, walleye and channel catfish in the Columbia River (downstream of Chief Joseph dam) and its tributaries, including the Snake River and its tributaries. This change aligns regulations on several rivers with a previously adopted rule that eliminated daily limits and size requirements for these species in most of the region.
WDFW staff withdrew a few proposals that had been put forth during the public review process. One such rule would have allowed chumming statewide while another would have eliminated special rules for panfish statewide. Another rule that was withdrawn would have eliminated a provision that requires anglers using bait to stop fishing for trout after landing the daily limit for that species, regardless of whether the fish are kept or released.

More information on the simplified rules can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2018/01/agenda_jan1818.html.

In other business, the commission directed WDFW staff to initiate a public process to strengthen the conservation and protection of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, which has been classified as a threatened species under state law since 1998. Commission members said they favored elevating the level of protection to endangered, which could increase the likelihood of the species’ survival and recovery.

In the 1800s, the sharp-tailed grouse was the most abundant game bird in eastern Washington, with its highest densities in relatively moist grassland and sagebrush vegetation. But with much of its habitat converted to cropland, and in the wake of major fires in 2015, the population has declined to an estimated total of less than 600 birds.

In the coming weeks, WDFW will seek public comments on the proposed change within a timetable that will enable the commission to make a final decision later this year.

A draft report on the bird’s status is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/.

The commission also voted to make changes to rules for compensating commercial livestock owners for animals killed or injured by wolves. One of those changes establishes market value for the loss of livestock and guard dogs. Another requires livestock producers to exhaust all available compensation from non-profit groups before receiving payment from the department.

Additionally, commissioners approved the purchase of 1.3 acres of floodplain in Whatcom County to restore habitat and 115 acres of land in Ferry County, which includes 3.4 miles of undeveloped shoreline on the Kettle River. The Ferry County acquisition will protect habitat and allow for public access to the river for a variety of non-motorized recreational activities and wildlife viewing.

Minutes and audio recordings of the commission meeting will be available online early next week at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/minutes.html.

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CDFW News – Open Area of Commercial Rock Crab Fishery to be Extended to Salt Point, Sonoma County.

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it has extended the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from 38° 34′ N. Lat. (Salt Point, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County on Nov. 8, 2016. On Jan.1, 2017, new authority established in the Fish and Game Code, section 5523, allowed the Director to continue the closure. Opportunistic sampling of rock crabs and continued high domoic acid levels have prevented the reopening of fishing grounds north of Bodega Bay, Sonoma County since Feb. 2017. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Salt Point, Sonoma County to the California/Oregon border shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen and CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/16/2018)

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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Anther Tenmile Creek Steelhead.

Cliff Stiffler holds up a beautiful Tenmile Creek steelhead – one of six hooked and two landed. Photo courtesy of Cathy Reiss of Lakeside Marina.

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Recreatin Report

The current water level on the Potholes reservoir is 1042.76 feet. The water temperature on the main lake is 37 degrees. The main lake is ice free. The sand dunes are still covered in 4 inches of soft ice.
Fishing: Not many anglers fishing this past week, but the mild temperatures forecasted for the next several weeks provide a great opportunity to get out and winter fish in some comfortable weather. Fish the deeper humps off the dunes and the humps just northwest of Goose Island to Crab Creek. Blade Baits are the top producing bait. Fish the main lake humps in 30-45 feet of water. The face of the dam is still producing walleye on swimbaits and Blade Baits. Fish 20-30 feet of water next to the dam. Now is a great time to drop shot for smallmouth on the face of the dam as well.
Hunting: Duck hunting has been very good this past week. The birds are here- but are becoming educated! Several limits of mallards have been taken. Goose hunting in the fields has been outstanding. Hunters have been doing well on both honkers and smaller birds.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest hunting and fishing info at 509-346-2651

Eric Fossand, his wife and son with a nice bunch of mallards after a Duck Taxi trip.

The David Hendricks party with a limit of Canadian Honkers.

Bill Hosko from Ellensburg has hunted with MarDon for many years and is 85 years young. Bill shows a 10lb. Honker from a Royal Slope hunt.

Young Bill Hosko shows a Canadian Honker with a band!

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Pete Heley Outdoors 1 / 17 / 2017

The deadlines for reporting hunt results are: Jan. 31, 2018 for all 2017 hunts that ended by Dec. 31, 2017 and April 15, 2018 for all 2017 hunts that end between Jan. 1- March 31, 2018. Hunters need the following pieces of information to properly report, which takes just a couple of minutes:

Hunter/Angler ID number (located on ODFW licenses, tags and applications; this is a permanent number that stays the same from year-to-year).

The two digit Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) number of the Unit you hunted in most and the Unit you harvested an animal in, if successful.

The total number of days hunted (including mentoring youth), the number of days hunted in the WMU hunted most, and the number of days hunted in the WMU you harvested an animal in if successful.

Hunters who fail to report 2017 deer or elk tags by the deadline will be penalized $25 when they purchase a 2019 hunting license. This penalty is assessed once, regardless of the number of unreported tags. As of Jan. 10, about 56 percent of buck deer tags and 57 percent of elk tags have been reported. ODFW saw an uptick in reporting after mailing reminder postcards to hunters who hadn’t reported on their deer and elk tags yet earlier this month.

“The information hunters provide is used when setting controlled hunt tag numbers and hunting seasons,” said ODFW Game Program Manager Tom Thornton. “We really appreciate hunters taking a few minutes of their time to complete the report, even if they did not hunt or were not successful.”

ODFW used to get this data through phone surveys but these became more difficult and expensive as hunters moved or screened their calls. The mandatory reporting program was put in place in 2007.

A penalty of $25 was added several years ago because even after several years promoting the program and providing incentives to report, only about 40 percent of tags were being reported on time. This rate was too low to for ODFW to even use the data.

After the penalty was implemented for 2012 tags, reporting rates jumped to 80 percent or more. This has allowed ODFW to phase out big game survey calls; the agency no longer makes these calls.

Information from the mandatory surveys about how many hunters went hunting, how many big game animals were taken, antler points and success rates is available at ODFW’s Big Game Hunting Harvest Statistics page, https://myodfw.com/big-game-hunting-harvest-statistics

Hunters that report on time are entered into a drawing to win a special big game tag. ODFW selects three names each year and the winners can choose a deer, elk, or pronghorn tag. Hunters who win get an expanded hunt area and extended season, similar to auction and raffle tags that hunters can pay thousands of dollars for.

The ODFW is also encouraging anglers to turn in their combined angling or “salmon “ tags. While there isn’t a financial penalty for not doing so, the information helps the ODFW make better fish management decisions. One-day and multi-day licenses also have space to track salmon, steelhead and halibut harvest. Anglers who purchased these documents are also encouraged to return them to ODFW.

Combined Angling Tags, Hatchery Salmon/Steelhead Harvest Cards and one-or multi-day licenses can be turned in to most POS agents or at any ODFW office located throughout the state. The cards can also be mailed to any ODFW office or to ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302.

Steelhead angling remains tough, but the rain predicted for this week should help. Tenmile Creek has shown some improvement. While most anglers are using salmon roe or sand shrimp, an angler fishing the confluence of Eel and Tenmile creeks caught three hatchery steelhead in three casts last week while fishing a pink plastic worm below a bobber.

The warm temperatures last weekend allowed a number of anglers to make very good catches of largemouth bass at Tenmile Lakes.

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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Tenmile Creek Steelhead Fishing Improving.

Even though low, clear water has slowed many steelhead fisheries, Tenmile Creek showed some improvement last week. Spin Reel Park has been the most popular fishing area and most of the keepable hatchery fish are caught below where Eel Creek enters the stream.

Tammis Hannah caught this nice hatchery steelie out of Tenmile Creek last Wednesday.

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WSFW News – Commission to Consider Simplified Sportfishing Rules.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will take action on proposed simplified recreational fishing rules for Washington rivers, streams and lakes during its public meeting Jan. 18-20 in Ridgefield.

The commission also will receive a briefing, and potentially provide guidance, on a proposed management plan for harvesting Puget Sound chinook salmon.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene each day in Room 102 of the Region 5 Office, 5525 S. 11th St., Ridgefield.

Beginning at 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 18, commissioners have scheduled an informal discussion of administrative and operational issues. On Friday, the meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. The commission will re-convene at 7 a.m. Saturday with an executive session, followed by the regular public meeting at 9 a.m.

An agenda is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/

On Friday, the commission will consider a package of simplified recreational fishing rules for Washington’s rivers, streams and lakes. The proposals are based upon general policies for freshwater species – such as trout, steelhead, bass, walleye, and panfish – that WDFW put forth for public review in September.

WDFW has proposed assigning most lakes, ponds and reservoirs to one of six standard seasons rather than setting custom season dates for each water body. Also, the department has proposed allowing separate daily limits for trout and steelhead rather than one combined limit.

The proposed rules, listed by geographical area, are available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/

In other business, commissioners will continue discussing the proposed Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan – the subject of a special conference call on Jan. 12 – and may provide guidance on the plan to WDFW fishery managers.

State and treaty tribal co-managers submitted the proposed plan, which guides the conservation and harvest of Puget Sound chinook salmon in Washington, to NOAA Fisheries on Dec. 1, 2017. An approved plan is required by NOAA for the state and tribes to hold fisheries affecting wild Puget Sound chinook, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The proposed plan is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/chinook/

NOAA has already informed the state and treaty tribes that the plan is insufficient, noting that several key salmon stocks would not meet new — more restrictive — federal conservation objectives. For that reason, NOAA is asking the co-managers to provide more information and analysis on the conservation objectives within the proposed plan.

More information on the commission’s Jan. 12 conference call can be found on the commission’s webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2018/01/agenda_jan1218.html

Also during the Jan.18-20 meeting, the commission will consider:

State wildlife managers’ recommendation to continue to classify the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse as threatened under state law.
Two potential land acquisitions, including 1.3 acres in Whatcom County and 115 acres in Ferry County.
State wildlife managers’ proposal to change rules for compensating commercial livestock owners for animals killed or injured by wolves. The changes are intended to increase clarity, streamline the process, and provide consistency with state law and the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 1 / 10 / 2017

Commercial crabbing officially begins on January 15th. In the meantime, recreational crabbing in the ocean remains red-hot and the rivers and bays that are open to recreational crabbing are producing very good catches.

Dockbound crabbers need to be aware that the Old Coast Guard Pier in Winchester Bay will be off limits while they are working on it. The project is scheduled to be finished in March, but the pier may be closed for several months thereafter while inspections and evaluations are completed. In the meantime, the alternatives are Dock 9 and Dock “A”.

It seems that there was some pent-up demand or perhaps withdrawal pangs regarding bottomfishing and when inshore bottomfishing reopened on January 1st, it seemed like every jetty angler that was tired of targeting striped surfperch went after greenling, lingcod and rockfish – and fishing was generally quite good. Bar and ocean conditions have limited fishing pressure on the offshore reefs, but they have been producing well when they are reachable and fishable.

Fishing the surf for redtail surfperch has generally been good, if somewhat inconsistent. Most anglers are using Berkley Gulp sandworms for bait.

In general, steelhead fishing has been slow. The fair numbers of fish in most streams are not biting well and it will probably take a decent amount of rainfall to improve the bite. Anglers fishing the Umpqua River should find conditions suitable for backtrolling with plugs in the tailout areas from Family Camp all the way upriver to at least Roseburg.

Anglers fishing Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes need to be aware that their coho salmon seasons are over – and if they purchased a 2-rod license for 2018, it will be valid on these lakes through September, and be valid on other lakes through December.

Tenmile Lakes has recently been providing fair fishing for rainbow trout averaging 14-inches. Stillfishing with bait near the bottom seems to be more productive than trolling and will likely continue to be more productive until water temperatures warm.

Cold water temperatures has slowed the yellow perch bite and reduced fishing pressure. Some anglers were wondering where the perch near the County Park on South Tenmile Lake go when they leave the park area around Thanksgiving every year. If an angler could find them, they would likely be on a major spawning area. Siltcoos Lake remains the area’s best bet to catch a yellow perch weighing more than a pound.

Several anglers per day visit Tenmile Lakes in the hopes of getting one or two subtle bites from largemouth bass over a several hour period. Although winter is not a prime time for bass numbers, it is when some of the year’s heaviest bass are caught.

The ODFW has postponed the 2018 recreational abalone season that was set to open on Jan. 1 until further review and Commission consideration in March. The decision follows California’s closure of its 2018 abalone season due to concerns over the health of the population.

If you have a flexible schedule, are at least 18 years of age, can provide your own transportation, love to fish and chat with other anglers, the ODFW has a volunteer opportunity for you.

“We need volunteers to informally interview winter steelhead anglers on the North and South Umpqua rivers. Volunteers can work a very flexible schedule and will be stationed at boat ramps in Canyonville and between Glide and Winchester,” said Evan Leonetti, Roseburg District STEP Biologist (541-464-2175).

This citizen science project, which ends in mid-April, collects information on the winter steelhead fishery including number of fish harvested, whether they are wild or hatchery, and fishing effort. Information will help ODFW prepare for a new tagging and recovery monitoring project in 2019, and also helps inform management of the fishery.

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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Anglers: Turn in 2017 Combined Angling Tags, Hatchery Harvest Cards.

ODFW reminds anglers to turn in their 2017 Combined Angling Tags and/or Hatchery Salmon/Steelhead Harvest Cards (aka Hatchery Harvest Tags) as soon as possible.

The documents should be returned even if you didn’t catch any fish or go fishing.

Anglers with an annual fishing license are required to use the Combined Angling Tags and/or Hatchery Harvest Cards to track the number, type and location of fish harvested, providing ODFW with valuable harvest statistics.

“While it’s not mandatory to turn the cards in, we encourage anglers to return them,” said Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager. “The information helps us better estimate salmon and steelhead harvest rates, which means we can better manage these fisheries.”

One-day and multi-day licenses also have space to track salmon, steelhead and halibut harvest. Anglers who purchased these documents are also encouraged to return them to ODFW.

Combined Angling Tags, Hatchery Salmon/Steelhead Harvest Cards and one-or multi-day licenses can be turned in to most POS agents or at any ODFW office located throughout the state. The cards can also be mailed to any ODFW office or to ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302.

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