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Author Archives: Pete Heley
5 years after world-record redear sunfish catch, invasive quagga mussels considered a likely contributor to monster sizes of these sunfish at Lake Havasu
PHOENIX — Have the redear sunfish at Lake Havasu really gone quagga crazy?
Have these panfish that really can fill a pan, and are widely regarded as one of the better fish species to eat, found a surplus of invasive quagga mussels to munch?
A mystery remains: Redear sunfish at Havasu have been reaching world record sizes. But why, exactly?
Let’s dive into this piscatory puzzle.
That world-record feeling
On Feb. 16, 2014, Hector Brito caught a world-record redear sunfish from Lake Havasu.
Five years ago, “panfish” took on a new meaning.
We’re at the time of year when Lake Havasu tacked its world-record pin on the fishing map. On Feb. 16, 2014, Hector Brito caught a 17-inch, 5.78-pound world-record redear sunfish on a dropshot-rigged nightcrawler.
“I didn’t expect the record to last this long,” Brito said. “It’s amazing.”
This 45-mile fishing wonderland created by the Colorado River on the western-most strip of Arizona, adorned like a leather belt by the regal London Bridge, allows an angler to fish from the beach on the Arizona side and see the California mountains on the other. Some of those anglers said they witnessed a dramatic increase in the sizes of redear sunfish from 2009-2014 that — coincidence or not — occurred after invasive quagga mussels were first discovered in 2007 at Havasu.
In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) did a study about the effects of redear and bluegill on quagga populations and found these sunfish do consume quaggas. Even more, the redear reduced quagga numbers by as much as 25 percent. The experiments of the study were conducted in field enclosures of Lake Havasu, as well as in the BOR’s Boulder City, Nev. Fish Lab. See the updated report.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department can’t verify that redear sunfish, also known as “shellcrackers” because of their pharyngeal teeth (throat teeth) that allow them to crush crustaceans such as snails, are reaching unprecedented sizes due solely to quaggas as an additional food source. Other biological factors include Havasu’s food base of grass shrimp and redswamp crawdads.
Regardless, Havasu is home to some of the biggest shellcrackers on the globe.
Fish chatter: redear sunfish are “quagga crazy”
Doug Adams, a former Lake Havasu City-based fisheries biologist for the Bureau of Land Management, said he also knows that redear sunfish eat quagga mussels. At the same time, he said that in 2005 — 2 years before quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Havasu – an electroshocking of 75 sites produced redear sunfish that averaged more than 2 pounds.
“From one standpoint, there wasn’t much fishing pressure until they started catching these bigger (redear),” Adams said. “Quagga could be a good contributor to their sizes. So it’s kind of a mystery.”
A mystery it might remain.
- Robert Lawler of Lake Havasu City with what was a potential world-record, 5-pound, 7-ounce redear sunfish caught in 2011 from Havasu.
- Brito’s world-record 5.78-pound redear sunfish from 2014.
- A pair of big redear sunfish captured during AZGFD’s November, 2018 survey at Lake Havasu.
- Ashley’s monster redear sunfish caught during April of 2017 reportedly weighed 5.02 pounds and measured 16 1/2 inches.
- During AZGFD’s fall, 2016 Havasu survey, the biggest redear sunfish captured (left) was 2.5 pounds.
Still, some Arizona anglers have etched their conclusion: The increasingly larger sizes of redear is a quagga-based phenomenon.
For angler Mike Taylor of Phoenix, it’s simple:
They don’t call them ‘shellcracker’ for nothing,” he said. “No quagga, then lots of quagga. Regular redears, then big redears after quagga show up … coincidence? Maybe, but I’d say increased food source equals bigger fish.
In an email to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, an anonymous angler said he has been fishing extensively for sunfish in Lake Pleasant and the Colorado River. He wrote:
And I have observed that not only do redears feed on quagga mussels, but bluegill and green sunfish do as well. After holding them in a live well for a short period of time, they will regurgitate bits of broken quagga shells until there is a layer approximately a quarter-inch thick in the bottom of the live well.
And finally, some thoughts from Brito, the record holder:
They eat a lot of quagga mussels. Everytime I fish for them, I search their stomachs and always find shells of quagga mussels.
Redear sunfishing techniques
A new world record remains possible.
“I’m sure there’s a 7-pounder out there somewhere,” said John Galbraith, owner of Bass Tackle Master in Lake Havasu.
Perhaps surprising to some, AZGFD has not received a report of a redear that’s come close to challenging the record. Brito said that since his world record, he’s caught some big ones: a 2- and 3-pound redear this year and one last year that weighed nearly 4 pounds.
Are you up for a shell-cracking quest?
Here’s some redear sunfishing tips:
- Use the right rig: One of the most popular techniques for catching redear sunfish is using a dropshot rig with a nightcrawler — the same technique Brito used when catching his world record. Brito said he caught the record by the chalk cliffs, and the rig included a No. 8 gold Aberdeen hook.
- Show a natural presentation: Others use worms on the bottom, without a weight or bobber, and allow the bait to lie motionless.
- Expect a light bite: Redear bite gently and seem to reject baits that offer resistance such as lead weights. Sometimes, redear will simply move the bait a foot or so like an unsettled shopper.
- Depth and habitat: At Havasu, when redear are not in shallow water during their typical May/June spawn, they can generally be found in 22-30 feet of water. Redear prefer vegetated areas with submerged stumps and brush with little or no flowing water.
- Record fish are loners: The world record-size redears seem to break away from the schools of smaller fish. “They’re more solitary fish,” Galbraith said. “You don’t see 1-pounders with a 5-pound fish.”
Back on the dinner table, redear are widely considered excellent eating. Their diet consists of hard-shelled organisms like clams or snails, as well as insect larvae, planktonic crustaceans and other invertebrates.
Quagga mussels: an aquatic invasive species
Stocking redear as a featured sport fish in some locations is a possibility.
Yet it’s unlikely the Arizona Game and Fish Department would stock redear sunfish with the sole purpose of reducing populations of the quaggas, which also have affected Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, the Lower Colorado River below Lake Havasu to Mexico, the Central Arizona Project canal, Lake Powell, Lake Pleasant, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Red Mountain Lake.
Quagga mussels are a poor food source for most other fish species, and drastically reduce food availability for aquatic organisms. This results in smaller catch sizes of other sportfish and native fish species. Quagga mussels may also contribute to increasing occurrences of toxic algae blooms, which can affect both humans and wildlife.
Quaggas colonize rapidly on hard surfaces and can ruin boat motors and clog water intake structures such as pipes and screens, thereby impacting pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants.
A 2016 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report looked at costs related to quagga mussel management on the Hoover, Parker and Davis dams along the Lower Colorado River and found more than $6 million of additional funds were spent through 2016 with an estimated $17 million of ongoing maintenance through 2020.
This results in high water and power bills for consumers.
No mystery: Havasu a fishing destination
When it comes to the smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and redear sunfish, the fishing is at its historic best. The lake continues to be ranked as one of the top places to fish for bass in the country: in 2018, Bassmaster Magazine ranked Havasu as the No. 7 best bass lake in the Western U.S.
Redear sunfish isn’t the only species thriving at Havasu. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also swimming in luxury. Already in 2019, the average winning daily 5-fish bag weight has been around 21 pounds. Most bass-tournament anglers consider average bags weighing more than 20 pounds impressive.
Striped bass fishing also appears to be on the rise. The single-day record for the total weight of striper was set during the annual Lake Havasu Striper Derby during May of 2018: eight stripers totaled 110 pounds, a new one-day record at the 37-year-old tournament.
Robert McCulloch Sr., founder of Lake Havasu City, would probably have been proud.
At the Lake Havasu City Visitor’s Center, history exits in a binder of newspaper clippings. One of the articles, coated in a hue of rusty yellow, features a black-and-white photo with a shoreline marked by protruding finger- and T-shapes that jet into Lake Havasu. The photo of old Site 6 dominates the cover of the Lake Havasu City Herald, issued Jan. 4, 1968.
That’s how it looked when Lake Havasu City founder Robert McCulloch Sr. flew overhead. He would end up purchasing a version of the London Bridge to adorn the Havasu Channel of his city.
McCulloch could hardly have imagined how big the redear sunfish have become – nearly 6 pounds, with potential for more.
The world-record redear caught in February was not even a spawning fish.
Some local anglers believe that a roe-filled spawner will be caught any day.
So grab a cup of nightcrawlers, maybe a fishing license online, and a sense of wonder.
A new world record could bear your name.
The first Columbia River spring chinook was caught near Portland on the lower Willamette River on January 29th by Dave Frey. He was fishing by himself with a red prawn for bait. The springer was a finclipped hatchery fish of 16 pounds.
While Oregon’s first springer each year usually is caught in the Columbia or lower Willamette rivers the first springers taken each year on the southern Oregon coast are typically caught from either the Rogue or Umpqua rivers during the last week in February or the first week in March.
Crabbers wanting to use the crab dock just upriver from the Siuslaw River’s South Jetty, need to be aware that the road is closed for repairs near Beach 5 Day Use Area – which is about a half-mile before the crabbing dock.
Crabbing is definitely slowing down at Charleston and Winchester Bay, but is still somewhat more productive than it is at this time in most years.
Kudos to the man who was attacked by a cougar while jogging alone on Colorado’s Horsetooth Mountain. Despite suffering serious, but not life-threatening injuries, the jogger, fit and in his 30’s, was able to subdue the year-old 70 pound cat by choking it to death. The jogger was quickly released from the hospital and has not yet released a public statement.
There were no scheduled trout plants for this upcoming week for our area. Legal rainbows were stocked this week in Alder (566); Cleawox (1,332) and Dune (332). Munsel is the only Florence area stocked this week with larger rainbows and received 500 15-inch trophy rainbows.
Cold air and the resulting lower water temperatures will probably dampen the trout bite for the next few weeks, but with the number of trout planted so far in February in the Florence area (more than 10,000), when the water begins warming up, the bite should be very, very good.
The stocking of the Coos County lakes will begin during the last week in February with Bradley Lake (3,000 legals); Saunders Lake (3,000 legals) and Mingus Park Pond (2,000 legals).
Anglers fishing Eel Lake this winter have been catching fair numbers of small coho salmon that chose to remain in Eel Lake rather than swim down the Eel Creek outlet on their way to the ocean. Extremely low water in Eel Creek probably had a lot to do with them staying in the lake. These fish have been running eight to 14-inches in length and many anglers have been keeping them. When I asked Mike Gray, an ODFW biologist stationed in Charleston (who seems to have memorized the fishing regulation booklet) about these fish, he quickly pointed out to me that these fish were not legal to keep – for a couple of reasons.
(1) – They were not finclipped and Eel Lake was not mentioned under exceptions to the southwest zone and (2) – They didn’t measure 15 or more inches in length, and once again, were not mentioned under zone exceptions.
Young coho planted in Cooper Creek and Galesville reservoirs are legal to keep and are to be considered part of the five trout daily bag limit – and both these waters are included in the exceptions section for the southwest zone.
I found it very interesting that Bill Taylor, a S.T.E.P. volunteer living in Winchester Bay, had a scale sample analyzed from a 13.5-inch Eel Lake coho by an ODFW biologist this winter and that fish was found to have spent some time in saltwater. Perhaps that 13-inch coho I caught on a plasic worm a decade ago during early August on Tenmile Creek near where Eel Creek enters – wasn’t as unusual as I though it was.
Northern California’s Clear Lake recently held a crappie tournament that was wildly successful. Entrants were allowed to weigh in a maximum of ten crappies – all of which had to measure at least 12-inches in length. The tournament had a full field of 50 boats and the tournament winner weighed in ten crappie weighing 21.42 pounds – or slightly more than two pounds and two ounces per fish. A very impressive average since the heaviest crappie caught during the tournament only weighed 2.68 pounds.
Local anglers should pay special attention to Saturday, February 23rd as two special events will occur then.
The “Flyfishing Expo” will be held at the Reedsport Community Center at 451 Winchester Avenue in Reedsport from 9 am until 3 pm.
This is one of the more ambitiouis events put on by a single flyfishing club every year. The event will run from 9:00 am through 3:00 pm and will feature FREE door prizes and raffle drawings. Meals and snacks will be available and some of the booths will feature fly tying; fly casting; informnational and equipment displays. There are plenty of varied flyfishing-related things to experience and best of all – it’s absolutely FREE!
The other big thing that day will Tenmile Lake’s annual “Frostbite Open” which is one of the northwest’s largest and most popular bass tournaments. This tournament usually fields the maximum 75 boats and the winning weight for a five bass limit usually tops 20 pounds. Recent cold weather and the resulting low water temperatures could severely test the anglers participating in this year’s tournament. However the anglers have passed similar tests during the tournament in previous years.
People wanting to check out both events should check the Flyfishing Expo first and then check out the Frostbite Open weigh-in which usually occurs around 3 pm at the boat ramp in the Osprey Point RV Park in Lakeside.
Oregon recently lost one of its most accomplished outdoor writers with the passing of Dwight Schuh at age 73 after an eight year battle with cancer.
Dwight was born in Corvallis, but was living in the Klamath Falls area when he began his outdoor writing career.
Back then, I had a weekly outdoor column in the Klamath Falls Herald and News despite not living in the area and had the pleasure of a half-day visit from Dwight and his wife Laura at my home in Gresham.
During the visit, I picked Dwight’s brain on overlooked Klamath-area fisheries including the bullhead catfish fishery on the east side of Highway 97 opposite Upper Klamath Lake that usually occurs in late February or early March when the shallow waters become noticeably warmer than the water in the big lake.
What really sticks out about our one-time meeting was how polite Dwight and Laura were and how carefully they chose their words when speaking. Dwight, soon after, started specializing in hunting articles and then in bowhunting articles. He became the editor of “Bowhunting Magazine” when the magazine’s founder decided to retire and picked Dwight to replace him. Dwight was the magazine’s editor for 15 years until his retirement in 2011. Judging from the number of online comments regarding his passing, he is, and will be, greatly missed.
Razor clam diggers can return to various ocean beaches for a seven-day opening beginning Friday, Feb. 15. The dig extends over a long weekend and provides a Saturday digging opportunity at Long Beach.
State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig on evening low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.
The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates, and evening low tides:
- Feb. 15, Friday; 3:11 p.m.; 0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Feb. 16, Saturday; 4:08 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Kalaloch
- Feb. 17, Sunday; 4:59 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
- Feb. 18, Monday; 5:46 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
- Feb. 19, Tuesday; 6:31 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors
- Feb. 20, Wednesday; 7:14 p.m.; -1.3 feet; Twin Harbors
- Feb. 21, Thursday; 7:56 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers hit the beach about an hour or two before low tide for the best results.
“Razor clams are fun to gather and great to eat, and the seven-day schedule should provide opportunities for diggers to find a time to gather their clams for late winter get-togethers with friends and family,” said Ayres.
In order to ensure conservation of clams for future generations, WDFW sets tentative razor clam seasons that are based on the results from the annual coast-wide razor clam stock assessment and by considering harvest to date. WDFW authorizes each dig independently after getting the results of marine toxin testing.
All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2018-19 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license (starting at $9.70) to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.
Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
More information is available on WDFW’s razor clam webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.
Oregon recently lost one of its most accomplished outdoor writers with the passing of Dwight Schuh at age 73 after an eight year battle with cancer. Dwight was born in Corvallis, but was living in the Klamath Falls area when he began his outdoor writing career.
Back then, I had a weekly outdoor column in the Klamath Falls Herald and News despite not living in the area and had the pleasure of a half-day visit from Dwight and his wife Laura at my home in Gresham. During the visit, I picked Dwight’s brain on overlooked Klamath-area fisheries including the bullhead catfish fishery on the east side of Highway 97 opposite Upper Klamath Lake that usually occurs in late February or early March when the shallow waters become noticeably warmer than the water in the big lake.
What really sticks out about our one-time meeting was how polite Dwight and Laura were and how carefully they chose their words when speaking.
Dwight, soon after, started specializing in hunting articles and then in bowhunting articles.
He became the editor of “Bowhunting Magazine” when the magazine’s founder decided to retire and picked Dwight to replace him. Dwight was the magazine’s editor for 15 years until his retirement in 2011.
Judging from the number of online comments regarding his passing, he is and will be greatly missed.
In an effort to get more Californians involved in fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is partnering with the recreational fishing and hunting communities, state and federal agencies, and others to address barriers and opportunities to hunting and fishing in the state.
“Our goal is to support and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy California’s wild places,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fishing and hunting opportunities in this state are unparalleled, they belong to all Californians and should be utilized by all of us.
This effort is to make sure Californians know that.” CDFW has formed an executive-level task force, hired a full-time coordinator to head-up the effort, hired a research scientist, and finalized a statewide recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) action plan. A staff-level working group is working to increase hunting and fishing participation by collaborating with diverse stakeholders to transform barriers to participation into opportunities.
Some of the barriers CDFW will look at initially are access and opportunity challenges, public perception of fishing and hunting, and license structure and pricing. The effort will also focus on encouraging more adults to take up hunting and fishing for the first time. Research shows spending time outdoors improves physical, mental and social well-being. Many hunters and anglers say the reason they participate in these activities is to enjoy the quality time with family and friends and to bring home great memories and healthy food.
California is home to some of the nation’s most diverse hunting and fishing opportunities, but participation in these activities has declined significantly since the 1970s and 1980s. Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in wildlife surveys for scientific data collection, and reporting wildlife crimes.
Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide the primary funding source for state-level fish and wildlife conservation in California. The decline in participation poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation, the state’s long-standing hunting and fishing heritage, and Californians’ connection to the outdoors in general. “The fishing and hunting community has rallied around CDFW, and we are now poised to tackle the challenges before us,” Bonham said. To get involved or learn more about the state’s R3 efforts, please contact vog.ac.efildliwnull@tedeneB.refinneJ.
While browsing through the current edition of the “Lakesidetonian”, Lakeside’s free monthly newsletter, I noticed a letter written by Jerry Reiss. Jerry, along with his wife Cathy, owns Lakeside Marina and he is also a member of the Tenmile Lakes Association. His letter concerned itself with the problems caused by the lakes’ historic low water levels over the last several years. After reading the well-written letter, I was reminded of a situation more than four decades earlier where a small water level dam was proposed on Tenmile Creek.
While property owners’ concerns are always a factor in any such project, a primary reason the dam was never built was because a student activist group (OSPIRG) strongly opposed the dam and took out several newspaper ads stating “Save Our Salmon – No Dam on Tenmile Creek”. Their campaign was successful and the dam proposal was dropped.
But a small dam, perhaps only three foot tall, with a fish ladder and a gate to deal with winter water flows was just what Tenmile Creek needed. At that time, there was a shallow sand bar spanning the entire width of Tenmile Creek where Eel Creek entered Tenmile Creek. More often than not, coho salmon have a difficult time entering the lagoon and lower reaches of Tenmile Creek. The sand bar at Eel Creek was a major obstacle to the already stressed salmon and searun cutthroats that were intent on reaching the lake and its tributaries. Some years I observed coho salmon swimming into Eel Lake in early March – much to late to successfully spawn.
The sand bar at Eel Creek no longer exists, but not only would a small dam help anadromous fish ascend Tenmile Creek and enter Eel Creek, it could also deliver a timely flush to help salmon get into Tenmile Creek. Additionally, the dam could keep the lake levels higher during summer and fall.The coho salmon populations in Tahkenitch and Siltcoos lakes, both of which have dams on their outlets, seem to have held up better than the coho population in Tenmile Lakes.
Low water levels at Tenmile Lake have literally “forced” anglers and water-based recreationists to rediscover Eel Lake which has been “busier” than ever the last few years.
Eight Oregon legislators, at the request of the Humane Society of the United States, have introduced a bill that would ban all contests related to the take of wildlife. The bill currently defines wildlife to exclude fish, but Senate Bill 723 could be a first step toward more onerous legislation. However, people claiming the bill will lead to the banning of bass tournaments are nothing more than “alarmists”.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has approved new smoke rules for Oregon that will allow more planned burns to reduce wildfire risk by getting rid of underbrush and dead trees.
The Oregon Marine Board is proposing fee increases for licensing kayaks, rafts and other small non-motorized craft.
Rogue Rods has gone the way of the buffalo. Arguably the best combination of quality and affordability in locally made fishing rods, the company was supposedly bought out by another company, possibly for their equipment, or to reduce competition – but not to continue manufactoring the line.
Oregon’s Beverage Recycling Co-operative reported that approximately ninety percent of the containers covered by the plan were redeemed (returned for cash) in 2018.
Crabbing has slowed down, but seems to better than normal for this time of year. A dock crabber last Friday caught a red rock crab in addition to a couple of legal-sized male dungeness crabs while crabbing off Winchester Bay’s “A” Dock. Red Rock Crabs, while fairly common inside the “Triangle, are very seldom caught in the lower Umpqua River.
Winter bassfishing at Tenmile Lake is getting more consistent and should show noticeable improvement with stable weather and warming temperatures.
While the lakes that received trout plants this week (Alder, Carter, Cleawox, Dune, Lost, Munsel and Siltcoos Lagoon) should have plenty of trout left in them – some are receiving additional plants this coming week. Munsel Lake is to receive 500 trophy rainbows while Alder lake will receive 566 legals, Cleawox is slated for 1,332 legals and tiny Dune Lake is getting 332 legals.
Upcoming sportsman shows include:
Feb. 6th – 10thPacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show at the Portland Expo Center2060 North Marine Dr, Portland,
February 15th – 17th Roseburg Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Show at the Douglas County Fairgrounds 2110 Frear St, Roseburg
Feb. 22nd – 24thKVRD Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreational Show at the Jackson County Fairgrounds 1 Peninger Rd, Central Point
Feb. 23rdLower Umpqua Flycasters Fly Fishing Expoat the Reedsport Community Center 451 Winchester Avenue, Reedsport
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public workshop Feb. 13 to kick off a planning process for the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, which encompasses portions of the unique South Sound prairies.
The wildlife area consists of six separate units that cover roughly 3,592 acres in Thurston and Grays Harbor counties.
The workshop is scheduled from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Feb. 13, at Swede Hall, 18543 Albany St. SW, Rochester.
The plan will propose actions for the management of the wildlife area over the next 10 years. This includes efforts to protect wildlife species and their habitat and enhance recreational opportunities where appropriate, said Darric Lowery, wildlife area manager.
At the upcoming meeting, WDFW staff members will review the wildlife area’s history, discuss the planning process, and ask for public comments, Lowery said.
“We want to hear from the public about how people use this area as well as what recreation and natural resource values are important to them,” he said.
WDFW staff will work on the plan with the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area advisory committee, made up of citizens, neighbors, and other stakeholders.
Lowery said the public will also have opportunities to comment at upcoming advisory committee meetings and when the draft plan is developed.
Information on the wildlife area’s six units is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/scatter_creek/.
The department is revising management plans for all of its 33 wildlife areas to reflect current conditions and identify new priorities and initiatives.
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. WDFW manages more than 1 million acres of public land across the state that is designated for wildlife habitat and public recreation.
Question: I am a Colorado resident, although I grew up in California and attended college at UC Santa Barbara. My degree is in Aquatic Biology and I am interested in the science behind waterfowl banding studies. I hunted waterfowl in California with my out-of-state license this past weekend and shot my first goose. It had two bands, one on each leg. I recorded my information on the federal U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Bird Banding Lab website and found out that it had been banded near Nuiqsut, Alaska. I made enchiladas out of it that night. Why the two bands? (Sam L., Westminster, Colorado)Answer:
Congratulations on your first goose – and a banded one at that! And thank you for coming all the way out to California to hunt here. California’s waterfowl hunting opportunities are a huge draw for out-of-state hunters. The band information you provided tells us that your goose was banded by one of our partners at the USGS-Alaska Science Center. Your goose is a lesser snow goose and was banded 2,500 miles away as the crow (well, actually, the goose) flies, from where you shot it. Your goose had what we technically refer to as a band and a color marker. The band contains the number that tells us exactly when and where it was banded and by whom. The other band is the color marker. Many researchers use other auxiliary markers (color leg bands, neck collars, radio transmitters, flags and tags) along with federal bands to allow identification of a bird at a distance. To use any of these auxiliary markers, researchers need to have federal banding permits and additional marking authorization. Thank you for reporting the data! Hunters are a critical element of our data collection efforts. Our waterfowl banding studies have been ongoing, in one form or another, for more than 100 years. As a biologist yourself, you are acutely aware of the importance of collecting all available data to improve the accuracy of their resource assessments. The principal investigator conducting the study involving your goose will be notified of your recovery and your data will contribute to important migration research. We hope you enjoyed your goose enchiladas. Safe travels back to Colorado!
What’s the deal with the special late goose season?Question: I hunt a duck club in the Sacramento Valley only a few miles north of the Sutter/Sacramento County line. Can you please explain the special goose hunt after the close of the normal waterfowl hunting season? I know I can hunt geese but can’t hunt ducks. What are the limits on geese for that special season? Are they the same as the regular season? (Bob)
Answer: No, they are not the same! It is very important to check regulations for the area you wish to hunt to see if there is a late season for geese. The late goose season is for white-fronted (aka specklebellies or specks) geese and white geese only. Your Sacramento Valley club is in the Balance of the State Zone, for which the season extends from the second Saturday in February extending for a period of five days (Feb. 9-13) except in the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area, where the white-fronted goose season is closed. During the Late Season, hunting is not permitted on wildlife areas listed in sections 550-552 except on Type C wildlife areas in the North Central and Central regions. Most goose populations that winter in California, including white-fronted and lesser snow geese, are at or above population goals and can remain in California through late spring. The California Fish and Game Commission approved the late season goose hunts with the goal of reducing goose crop depredation on private lands by shifting geese onto public areas.
Late season goose hunts have created a new type of hunting opportunity that is attracting both new and experienced hunters, unlike what we have seen in the past. We are finding many waterfowl hunters are forgoing their traditional tank blinds surrounded by water and opting for dry fields with goose decoy spreads. Many are reporting incredible goose hunts. As a side note, the late season white-fronted and snow goose hunts have motivated us to feature the lesser snow goose on this year’s Warden Stamp. They are available for purchase online and the funds help pay for training, equipment and CDFW’s K-9 program.
Trout plants in our area start during the second week in February (actually Feb. 4-8) with several Florence-area lakes being stocked.
Alder Lake (3 acres) 738 trout (566 legals + 172 trophies; Carter Lake (28 acres) 750 trophies; Cleawox Lake (88 acres) 2,636 trout (2,000 legals + 636 trophies); Dune Lake (2 acres) 602 trout (566 legals + 36 trophies); Lost Lake (6 acres) 500 trophies; Munsel Lake (105 acres) 1,650 trophy trout and Siltcoos Lagoon (3 acres) 460 trophy trout. The reason for including the surface acreage of the lakes being stocked is to help the anglers that base their choice of fishing location on stocking density.
So far, almost all the winter steelhead streams in our area are lagging behind the average of the last several years catch-wise – but there’s a good chance that the best fishing on many streams will occur in February.
Offshore bottomfishing continues to be very good – especially off 10-Mile Reef which draws anglers launching out of both Charleston and Winchester Bay. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty has also been fishing well when wave conditions allow it.
Most serious bass anglers are pulling a few fish per trip out of Tenmile Lakes, , but fishing for yellow perch has recently been slow. Fishing has also been slow for walleyes on the Columbia River and even Lookout Point Reservoir despite increasing interest from walleye anglers.
Southern California’s Salton Sea recently suffered a massive die-off of waterbirds due to avian cholera. Recently infected birds are capable of spreading such diseases hundreds, if not thousands of miles. So far, the only mammals found to be susceptible to avian cholera are rabbits and mice.
Last week thousands of moon jellyfish were found littering the beaches adjacent to Haystack Rock near Cannon Beach. But marine biologists are urging beachgoers not to touch them. While moon jellyfish usually don’t sting, another kind of jellyfish called the Pacific sea nettle does sting — sometimes even after it’s dead.
Scientists have also found that the orcas of Washington state do not benefit from the state’s massive runs of pink salmon that occur every other year – as these small salmon tend to distract or confuse the orcas from effectively targeting their preferred forage which is chinook salmon.
Over the next month, an angler catching a female yellow perch measuring 15-inches might end up with an Oregon state record should they promptly get the fish witnessed and weighed on a certified scale. The current state record perch weighed two pounds and two ounces and was caught way back in 1971.
If you are reasonably good at math, an angler can get quite proficient at estimating fish weights. For example, a normally-shaped rainbow trout measuring 14-inches weighs about a pound. If an angler wanted to estimate the weight of a similar-shaped 21-inch trout, he could do so by taking the cube of 21 and dividing that figure (9,261) by the cube of 14 (2,744) to get the 21-inch trout’s weight in pounds (3.375 pounds or 3 pounds and 6 ounces).
A pre-spawn female yellow perch measuring 12-inches will weigh about one pound. Using the previously mentioned formula to estimate the weight of a 15.5-inch pre-spawn female yellow perch would give a numerator of 15.5 cubed or 3,723.875. Cubing 12 gives the denominator of 1,728 and doing the division gives the weight of 2.155 pounds or slightly over the current state record.
Outdoor Sports Shows this week are:
February 1st – 3rdKEZI EUGENE Boat and Sportsmen’s Showat 796 W 13th Ave, Eugene (Lane Events Center)
Feb. 6th – 10thPacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Showat the Portland Expo Center2060 North Marine Dr, Portland
ODFW will host their annual pre-season halibut meeting on Monday, February 4th, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the ODFW Marine Resources Program Conference Room, 2040 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport.
An overview of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) Annual meeting and the resulting quotas will be presented by staff at the meeting, followed by public input on the timing of “fixed” and “back-up” dates for the Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) spring all-depth halibut season for 2019. The IPHC Annual meeting will take place in Seattle, January 28th – February 1st.
People who cannot attend the meeting in person can still participate in several ways:
- Join the meeting via GoToMeeting via computer, tablet or smartphone at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/592688557 or by phone +1 (872) 240-3311/ Access Code: 592-688-557. (It’s a good idea to do a system check if it’s your first GoTo meeting https://link.gotomeeting.com/system-check)
- Complete an online survey after Feb. 1. (Both the online survey and background materials for the meeting will be posted by late afternoon on Friday, Feb. 1 on the ODFW halibut webpage http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/index.asp.)