Author Archives: Pete Heley

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

CDFW Offers Grants to Engage Hispanic Communities in Fishing Activities.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting grant applications for fishing programs, classes and activities that educate and engage Hispanic communities. This grant program is part of CDFW’s ongoing effort to increase fishing participation statewide.

To be eligible for funding, programs must be:
Ethnically inclusive: While a majority of participating families will be Hispanic, the event will be open to families of all races/ethnicities.
Family-focused: Program will encourage participation across multiple generations and genders.
Metro-centric: Program will encourage focus in metro areas.

Focused on Multiple Opportunities: Program will provide multiple opportunities for the same audience to participate in fishing.
Program should promote good stewardship toward the state’s aquatic resources.
The funds are made available from the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar™ Education Fund. The fund supports the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Hispanic initiative, Vamos A Pescar. To further the reach and facilitate partnerships at the local level, funds are provided for state agencies to match and sub grant to local 501(c)(3) organizations. With the help of donations from companies and organizations, this fund has continued to grow and expand nationally to keep future generations educated about the joys of fishing and boating and the importance of conservation.

Interested 501 (c)(3) organizations should review the grant guidelines and complete the grant application form and send via email to no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.

Proposals will be ranked by CDFW staff and submitted to RBFF for review by their advisory board. The advisory board will choose the final grant recipients by Jan. 18, 2019. Final decisions on the program are subject to the availability of state matching funds.

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WDFW News – Sekiu River Hatchery Steelhead may also be Identified by Dorsal Fin Height.

Action: Changes the definition of hatchery steelhead returning to the Sekiu River to include steelhead with a dorsal fin height of less than 2 1/8 inches or those with a clipped adipose or ventral fin.

Effective date: Nov. 10, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019

Reason for action: Returning hatchery steelhead are typically identified by a clipped adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar at the location of the fin. However, the hatchery steelhead smolts released from the Makah Fish Hatchery in the spring of 2016 and in spring of 2017 into the Sekiu River were not fin-clipped because of warm river temperatures and consequent fish health concerns.

These fish will be returning in the coming winter steelhead season. Dorsal fin heights of hatchery steelhead are shorter than comparably sized wild steelhead. The standard of 2 1/8 inches has been used elsewhere to identify unclipped hatchery steelhead.

Further Information: Hatchery steelhead are released as yearlings, and return after 1 ½ or 2 ½ years at sea as 3-year-old and 4-year-old fish. Identifying these fish by the height of the dorsal fin will allow the harvest in the Sekiu River of most returning hatchery steelhead from the 2016 and 2017 releases.

Steelhead smolts released in the Sekiu in the spring of 2018 have been marked by an adipose fin clip.

Information contact: Region 6 Office, (360) 249-4628.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 07 / 2018

While getting a fishing report last Saturday from Cathy Reiss of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina, a young man targeting yellow perch off their dock hooked and landed a chunky three pound largemouth on his panfish gear. On the same day, a dozen anglers fishing off the designated fishing dock at the County Park in Lakeside were enjoying very good success for yellow perch measuring beteeen eight and 11-inches.

That same Saturday, the Tenmile Bass Club had a club tournament in which 14 boats participated and the results were surprising for a November tournament. Ten of the 14 boats weighed in five bass limits and seven of the boats weighed in catches of at least ten pounds, The heaviest bag weighed 14.83 pounds and the biggest bass of the half-day tournament weighed 5.80 pounds.

As I am writing this on Sunday, a few coho salmon have been reported in Tenmile Lakes and there have been no reports this week of crappie, bluegill or bullhead catfish catches. Trout fishing remains slow, but the yellow perch and largemouth bass fishing has been very good.

Coho salmon are in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes, which have small dams on their outlets allowing some control over when their outlets need additional flows or a good flushing. The gates on the dam on the Siltcoos River remain closed, but a few salmon, mostly coho jacks, are using the fish ladder and the best fishing has been in the river above the Highway 101 deadline.

Tahkenitch Lake has been fishing surprisingly well for coho salmon, but it seems that most of the salmon caught so far have some color.

As of last weekend, chinook salmon have entered the Elk and Sixes rivers and more rain is needed to get these fisheries going – as well as get the initial chinooks into Floras Creek.

Butterfield Lake, Saunders Lake, Upper Empire Lake, Bradley Lake and Powers Pond all seem to have fair numbers of trophy rainbows left from their October trout plants.

Beginning on December 1st, the ODFW will launch a new electronic licensing system (ELS) that will allow their customers to purchase their licenses, tags and validations online on their smart phone or tablet. While some hunters and anglers may embrace the new system, others may prefer the “old” system and they will still be able to purchase their licenses and tags from their preferred retailer.

This is a big change and is set to begin when 2019 licenses and tags become available for purchase on December 1st. For the most accurate and detailed info on the new system get your information from the ODFW website.

I’m surprised that the ODFW hasn’t thought of this yet, but the Arizona Department of Game and Fish sure has. Beginning in 2019, hunting and fishing license and tag vendors in Arizona will have the option of charging convenience fees on license and tag sales. In return, the vendors will no longer receive their five percent fee for issuing the licenses or tags.

In other words, the AZGFD will get to keep the entire amount of the stated price each license or tag – and the vendors will be the “bad guys” for charging nominal convenience fees and will be blamed for the resulting price increases – at least the initial one. Depending on how the public reacts, there may be a lot less places to buy Arizona fishing and hunting licenses and tags in the next few years.

Examples of how some other states handle “problem” wildlife include Wyoming game officials trapping and euthanizing a grizzley bear and her two cubs when they wandered far ouside their core habitat area and Washington State wildlife officials killing the last two members of a Kettle River-area wolfpack when they persisted in attacking livestock after the pack size had already been reduced.

On Oct. 12, The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules to allow for the salvage of roadkilled deer and elk beginning Jan. 1, 2019, as directed by SB 372 passed by the 2017 Oregon State Legislature. While the full information is on the ODFW website, some of the key points are: (1) – Deer and elk accidentally stuck by a vehicle may be salvaged for consumption only. (2) – Intentionally hitting a deer or elk in order to salvage it remains unlawful. (3) –
Anyone who salvages a roadkilled deer or elk must complete a free online permit within 24 hours of salvaging the animal and provide information including their name, contact info, where and when salvage occurred, species and gender of animal salvaged, and if they were driver that struck animal.(4) – Antlers and head of all salvaged animals will need to be surrendered to an ODFW office within 5 business days of taking possession of the carcass. This rule will meet the requirements of SB 372 and will contribute to ODFW’s surveillance program for Chronic Wasting Disease. (5) – The entire carcass of the animal including gut piles must be removed from the road and road right of way during the salvage. (6) – In cases where a deer or elk is struck, injured and then put down to alleviate suffering, only the driver of the vehicle that struck the animal may salvage the carcass and law enforcement must be immediately notified. (This is a requirement per Oregon Revised Statute 498.016 and SB 372.). (7) – Any person who salvages a deer or elk will consume the meat at their own risk. ODFW/OSP will not perform game meat inspections for any deer or elk salvaged under these rules. (8) – Sale of any part of the salvaged animal is prohibited, but transfer to another person will be allowed with a written record similar to transferring game meat. (9) – The state of Oregon is not liable for any loss or damage arising from the recovery, possession, use, transport or consumption of deer or elk salvaged.

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 Lakes Fishing Update.

No recent reports of crappie, bluegill or brown bullhead catches. Trout fishing has been slow, but trout catches should increase now that a few coho salmon have reached the lake – as many large trout are taken incidentally by salmon anglers.

A three pound bass was caught off the dock at Ringo’s Lakeside Marina by a perch angler and during a club tournament on the same day (Saturday – November 3rd) ten of the 14 boats participating weighed in five bass limits with seven of the 14 entrants weighing in catches weighing at least ten pounds – not bad for a half-day November bass tournament.

Yellow perch continue to bite well and anglers on the fishing dock at the County Park accounted for numerous eight to 11-inch perch last Saturday.

More rain will definitely jumpstart the coho salmon fishery.

This nice-sized largemouth bass was caught on ultralight tackle intended for yellow perch.

There’s not many, but there are definitely a few coho salmon already in the lake.

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ODFW News – Coastal Salmon Lakes Update.

Usually the last of the three coho lakes to receive salmon (most likely because it does not have a dam on it – so the outlet water flows is at the complete mercy of “Mother Nature”, Tenmile Lakes did receive a few salmon this weekend, but more water is definitely needed.

The gates of the dam on the Siltcoos outlet remain closed, but could open at any time. A few salmon. mostly coho jacks, have entered the lower river and used the fish ladder to reach the river above the dam where they can easily reach the lake. Most of the reported salmon catches have occurred near the Highway 101 Bridge (which is the lower deadline for legal salmon fishing) and in Tyee Campground which is on Siltcoos River just downriver from the lake.

Tahkenitch Lake has been surprisingly productive as it seldom gets fishable numbers of salmon this early, but has already given some up some daily limits where anglers have caught a jack coho and then added an adult coho for their limit.

All three lakes need more rain and it is far too early to determine if these lakes will have good coho seasons.

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WDFW News – WDFW will accept applications for ALEA volunteer grants

Starting Dec. 1, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will begin accepting grant applications for volunteer projects that benefit the state’s fish and wildlife resources and the public’s enjoyment of them.

WDFW estimates having approximately $867,000 available for grants, funded through the state’s Aquatic Land Enhancement Account (ALEA), for projects occurring between July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021. The final amount available will be subject to legislative appropriation and will not be finalized until approved in the 2019 legislative session.

The program funds five major types of projects, although other project types may be considered. Project types include habitat restoration, scientific research/citizen science, public education and outreach, facility development, and artificial fish production.

Eligible applicants are individual citizens, non-profit organizations, schools (including universities), tribes and political subdivisions of the state such as conservation districts. For-profit businesses, state and federal agencies are not eligible.

Funds are provided on a cost-reimbursement basis and may not be used for staff salaries, wages, stipends or benefits. Grantees are required to follow state purchasing rules and report on their progress quarterly.

For more program information, visit the ALEA Grant Program website at:

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WDFW News – WDFW seeks members for Master Hunter Advisory Group.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting letters of interest through Dec. 31 for membership on its Master Hunter Advisory Group.

The group, which represents master hunters statewide, advises WDFW on issues and opportunities affecting master hunters and the Master Hunter Permit Program.

Five volunteer positions will be opening on the 15-member group in April. Members serve three-year terms. All appointees must retain their Master Hunter certification status throughout their entire term. The new appointees will start on April 1, 2019.

The group’s bylaws state that at least two advisory group members should reside within each of the six WDFW administrative regions. Letters of interest will be accepted from applicants residing in:

Region 3 (Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, and Yakima counties) – one vacancy
Region 4 (Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties) – one vacancy
Region 6 (Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, and Thurston counties) – one vacancy
Any county in the state – two vacancies
Applicants for membership on the advisory group are asked to submit letters of interest explaining: 1) why they want to be a member of the Master Hunter Advisory Group, 2) what qualifies them to be a member, and 3) how they can help the group achieve its goals.

Interested master hunters are advised to review the Master Hunter Permit Program webpage at

Letters of interest must include contact information (phone number, email address, mailing address, county of residence) and permission for WDFW to conduct a criminal background check. The background check comes at no cost to applicants. Letters should be sent to Kris Thorson at or to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Program, Master Hunter Section, Attn: Kris Thorson, PO Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504.

The application process is open to all certified master hunters with no ongoing legal proceedings or convictions in the last 10 years under the state’s fish and wildlife enforcement code.

After letters of interest are reviewed, prospective candidates may be contacted and interviewed by current members of the Master Hunter Advisory Group.

The Master Hunter Advisory Group meets at least four times per year, usually in Ellensburg. Members serve as volunteers and do not receive direct compensation, but mileage reimbursement is provided by WDFW to attend meetings. Members can expect to donate 75 to 100 hours of their time during their three-year term.

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Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Recreation Report

The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1033.3 feet – rising 3.81 feet this past week. The water temperature on the main Reservoir is in the low 50’s. As the water rises many of the rock hazards around Goose Island will not be visible – use extreme caution when navigating between the island and the face of the dam.
The walleye fishing has been good this past week. Fish the mid-lake humps in front of the sand dunes, around the mouth of Crab Creek and the rocks off Gooses Island. Troll a Slow Death hook with a worm by itself or a Smile Blade/Slow Death rig behind a 2-ounce bottom walker around the deeper mid-lake humps in the 15-30-foot depth range. Blade Baits are coming into play as the water temp drops.
Largemouth fishing is doing well on the face of the dunes and along the face of the dam. Deeper diving crankbaits, swimbaits, and skirted hula grubs have been the top producing baits for largemouth. If targeting smallmouth, fish the face of the dam and the rocks around Goose Island with a deeper diving jerk bait, crankbaits, drop-shot rigs and blade baits.
More trout are being caught with the cooler water temperatures. Trout fishers have been catching trout trolling #5 and # 7 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps and trolling Wedding Ring/crawler rigs off Medicare Beach.
Channel Catfish and Bullheads are being caught throughout the Potholes Reservoir. Fish worms or Catfish Magic on the bottom in Lind Coulee and at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway.
The crappie and bluegill fishing continue to be very good throughout the Reservoir. Fish the humps along the face of the dunes and mid-lake. Watch your fish finder to mark fish and jig VMC Probe jigs, Wingding jigs, Trout Magnets and Gulp Minnows on the deeper humps.
The MarDon Resort dock continues to do well. Fish Trout Magnets and Gulp Alive Minnows off the dock on a 1/64th oz. jig head. Fishing from the MarDon Dock is reserved for registered guests only.
Duck hunting has been fair with mixed bags of Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Widgeon and Gadwalls being reported.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.

Pete Fisher of MarDon Resort with a nice fall Potholes Reservoir Largemouth!

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Pete Heley Outdoors 10 / 31 / 2018

Ocean fishing for chinook salmon will close on October 31st (Wednesday evening) – at which time there will be no ocean salmon fishing or crabbing. Ocean crabbing is slated to reopen on December 1st – but the reopening of the commercial crab fishery on that date is not a certainty. The commercial fleet sometimes delays starting their season when the meat content of tested crabs is below an accepable level.

The reopening of recreational ocean crabbing in parts of northern California was delayed from it’s scheduled November 3rd start because of elevated toxin levels.

Offshore bottomfishing continues to be very good and jetty anglers are having fair to good success for lingcod, rockfish and greenling. Anglers fishing above the South Jetty are still hooking a few salmon, most of which are wild cohos which they cannot keep.

It appears that very few, if any, coho salmon have yet been caught in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch or Tenmile lakes – even though the season has been open since October 1st – perhaps this is a case where fishing regulations could be unsimplified. If the coho seasons for these lakes were to begin when the salmon actually enter these lakes, anglers with second rod licenses could keep using them for trout and warmwater fish until the salmon actually enter these lakes.

The few salmon reported caught in mid-October by customers of Ada Resort on Siltcoos Lake were quite likely large resident rainbow or cutthroat trout and not coho salmon. Now that our area is getting some rainfall, these lakes could receive salmon at any time.

“The Bites On, in Empire, reported that one of their bassfishing customers caught an adult coho salmon in Tahkenitch Lake several days ago.

A few chinook salmon have been reported from the lower Elk River, but none reported yet taken from the Sixes River or Floras Creek. A good rain will get fish into all these streams.

Most streams in the state close to fishing an hour after sunset on Wednesday, October 31st. To be safe, check the fishing regulations – since there are numerous exceptions.

The Coos County lakes that were recently planted with large rainbow trout have been fishing well – with the possible exception of Butterfield Lake where fly anglers have had to deal with large numbers of pesky juvenile steelhead. It seems that the Bandon Fish Hatchery periodically stocks their juvenile steelhead that don’t grade out sizewise into Butterfield Lake – where after several months, the surviving smolts become legal angling fare. In the meantime, they are much appreciated by the lake’s bass and larger trout, as well as predatory birds and mammals.

Fishing for warmwater species in most of our local lakes has suffered a major downtown – but Cathy Reiss of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina on South Tenmile Lake reports that a number of large yellow perch measuring between 13 and 16-inches and weighing more than a pound were caught recently and one angler caught several large crappie with the largest one measuring more than 14-inches.

The crappies and bluegills in Eel Lake seemed to have quit biting, but most likely have moved to deeper water and have not yet been “rediscovered” by anglers.

Now that the ODFW has started putting the landlocked coho into Cooper Creek Reservoir that they used to plant in Galesville Reservoir, Cooper Creek’s cold weather fishing should be much more interesting as the cohos should definitely be more active in cool water than the reservoir’s other fish species.

The Umpqua and Coquille rivers are still relatively clear and producing smallmouth bass with the best fishing occurring in the afternoons. The smallmouth bass in Woahink Lake have moved to deeper water and are tough to find. There are a few decent-sized smallmouth bass in Smith River, but their numbers are small and this is pretty much an incidental fishery where most of the bass are caught by anglers fishing for salmon.

Other fishing opportunities include the Columbia River which should be improving for walleyes as they near their late winter spawning season; Coeur d’Alene Lake in southwest Idaho for northern pike; Mayfield Lake in southwest Washington (the closest place someone from western Oregon can pursue tiger muskies); Pyramid Lake in western Nevada, which gave up a Lahontan cutthroat trout of nearly 22 pounds last week and is possibly the nation’s best fishery for lunker trout; East and Paulina lakes in central Oregon – which are now Oregon’s best spots for jumbo brown trout with the dewatering of Wickiup Reservoir .

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 Lakes Producing Hefty Yellow Perch, Crappies.

Cathy Reiss, of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina, reported fair numbers of lunker yellow perch measuring from 13 to 16-inches taken last week along with a few jumbo crappies measuring more than 14-inches. Cathy said that one angler’s catch of lunker crappies was taken at a location closer to the marina than Coleman Arm.

Crappies this size are lunkers anywhere.

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