Author Archives: Pete Heley

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

Winchester Bay Coho Photo

Brian Gill, of “The Umpqua Angler”, got a boat limit of coho salmon for his clients on Saturday.

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WDFW News – Statewide Shooting Ban to be Lifted on WDFW Lands.

With cooler temperatures and higher humidity reducing wildfire danger, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is lifting target shooting restrictions on WDFW lands beginning Saturday, Sept. 15.

A similar target shooting ban will be lifted the same day on lands managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.

“These changes reflect an easing of fire danger, but we still urge anyone heading outdoors this fall to be extremely cautious while participating in any activity that could spark a wildfire,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, manager of the WDFW Lands Division.

Target shooters should remain vigilant and avoid shooting into tall dry grass where sparks could start a fire. Discharge of a firearm for legal hunting remains permitted on all WDFW lands.

Although the risk is lower, the wildfire season is not over. Wilkerson noted that other restrictions remain in place on WDFW-managed properties in eastern Washington. Those restrictions include:

Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, are prohibited. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
Smoking is prohibited, except in an enclosed vehicle.
Welding and operating chainsaws are prohibited. Operating a torch with an open flame and all equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is also prohibited.
Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads is prohibited. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.
State law also prohibits the discharge of fireworks and the disposal of a lit cigarette or other burning material from a vehicle on a state highway.

Any changes to these restrictions will be posted on the department’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/.

More information about fires and fire prevention is available online from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (http://www.dnr.wa.gov) and the U.S. Forest Service (http://www.fs.usda.gov).

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Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Fishing Report

The fishing on the Potholes Reservoir continues to be very good with the cooler weather settling in. The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1027.20 feet – dropping .25 feet this past week. The water temperature on the main Reservoir is right around 65 degrees.
The Largemouth bass bite continues to be strong. Both Largemouth and Smallmouth are along the face of the dunes, and along the face of the dam. Some anglers are finding bigger fish in the 15-20-foot range. Top baits for Largemouth include – the SPRO Rock Crawler crank bait, Wacky Rigged Senkos and Skirted Heart Throb XL’s fished on a 3/8th oz. football head and fishing a drop shot rig. Smallmouth are being caught on the rock piles off Goose Island and along the face of the dam as well as around the face of the dunes. Use Flicker Shads, 3½” tubes, swimbaits, drop shot baits and Senkos for the Smallmouth.
The walleye bite has been very good this past week. Fish the humps in front of the sand dunes and around the rocks on Gooses Island. Troll #5 or #7 Flicker Shads and Strike King Walleye Elites and Bonsai Shads or Rapalas along the face of the dunes in 5-20 feet of water and in the same depths around Goose Island. Smile Blade/Slow Death rigs fished behind a 2-ounce bottom walker are also producing. Use extreme caution boating and fishing between Goose Island and the face of the dam. There are rock hazards that are difficult to see until it is too late!
The trout fishing on the Potholes Reservoir is picking up with the cooler water temperatures. Trout fishers have been catching trout trolling #5 and # 7 Flicker Shads and Rapalas.
The crappie fishing continues to be great throughout the Reservoir. Big crappies are being caught trolling #5 Flicker Shads and #5 Rapala Shad Raps along the face of the dunes, and jigging VMC Probe jigs and Wingdings. The MarDon Resort dock continues to fish well. Fish Trout Magnets and Gulp Alive Minnows off the dock on a 1/64th oz. jig head. Big bluegills are being caught around the mouth of Crab Creek. A few perch are being caught off the dock and around Goose Island. Fishing from the MarDon Dock is reserved for registered guests only.
Both Channel Catfish and Yellow Bullhead fishing has been very good over the past couple of weeks. We have had several Channel Cats in the 8-15lb. range come in this week. Mitch Herring from the MarDon Tackle store caught a 27-pound Channel Cat off the MarDon dock! Anglers have been trolling walleye rigs with crawlers in the dunes, on the face of the dunes and around Goose Island. Bank fishermen have been doing well on Cats in Lind Coulee and at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway using Magic Bait Catfish Nuggets and Crawlers.
MarDon Resort will be hosting the Old Farts Bass Tournament on September 15th. This is a CWFAC event in which all net monies will be used for the habitat restoration project on the Potholes Reservoir. Come have some fun and support the habitat project!
Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.

Upcoming Events:
September 14-16 Marathon Dock Fishing Tournament and Potluck
September 15 Old Farts Tournament – a CWFAC event

Mitch Herring from the MarDon Resort tackle shop caught this 27-pound Channel Catfish from the MarDon Resort dock!

A happy fisherman with a beautiful Potholes Reservoir walleye!
Pi

A couple of satisfied anglers show their catch after a trip with guide Shelby Ross.

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Attack of the Giant California Halibut.

Very much overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by the much larger Pacific Halibut, California Halibut seem to be becoming more common in Coos Bay – possibly because more anglers are correctly identifying them.

They also seem to be getting bigger.

Often taken accidentally by salmon anglers trolling with herring or other baitfish, until recently very few Calfornia Halibut were caught in Coos Bay that weighed more than 15 pounds. An IGFA world record was taken in 2011 by Frank Rivera of Camarillo, CA. Rivera landed the 67.3-pound beast on Friday, July 1 off Santa Rosa Island while fishing aboard the 60-foot Mirage out of Oxnard. The massive flattie is nearly nine pounds bigger than the previous IGFA All-Tackle World Record, which also was caught off Santa Rosa Island in 1999.

In the last few years, much larger California Halibut have been showing up in Coos Bay with several fish taken weighing more than 40 pounds. The largest reported was a 55 pounder taken by Jon Hodder.

Unfortunately, Oregon is one of the nation’s worst states when it comes to keeping track of record fish.

Darlene Thompson’s California Halibut weighed more than 40 pounds.

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WDFW Director Authorizes Lethal Action Against Old Profanity Territory Wolf Pack.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind today authorized department staff to lethally remove wolves from a new pack that has repeatedly preyed on cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.

WDFW staff have confirmed that on six separate occasions since Sept. 4, one or more members of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) pack killed one calf and injured five others on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing allotment. The pack occupies the same general area as the Profanity Peak pack in 2016.

Five of the OPT depredations are described in a Sept. 11 report on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/updates.php. The sixth incident, confirmed after the report was published, resulted in an injured calf, which has been removed from the grazing allotment with its mother.

Susewind authorized “incremental” removal of wolves from the pack, consistent with the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the lethal removal provisions of the department’s wolf-livestock interaction protocol. Both the plan and protocol define the initial step in incremental removal as meaning one or two wolves.

Under the protocol, WDFW can consider lethal action against wolves if department staff confirm three predations by wolves on livestock within 30 days, or four within 10 months. Depredations confirmed by WDFW in the past week meet the first criterion.

Based on a recent court order, the department must provide one business day’s (eight court hours) advance public notice before initiating lethal action on wolves. Consequently, the department will initiate lethal removal efforts against the OPT pack no sooner than the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 13.

WDFW will use humane lethal removal methods consistent with state and federal laws. The objective is to use the best methods available while considering human safety, humaneness to wolves, swift completion of the removal, weather, efficacy, and cost. Likely options in this case include shooting from a helicopter, trapping, and shooting from the ground.

As outlined in the wolf plan and protocol, incremental removal includes periods of active removals or attempts to remove wolves followed by periods of evaluation to determine if pack behavior has changed.

The department documented the presence of the OPT pack in May and notified the public on June 1. The affected livestock producer and USFS were also notified. Recent surveys indicate the pack includes three or four adult wolves and two pups. Wildlife managers have monitored the pack’s movements since June, when the adult male was captured and fitted with a tracking collar.

The protocol requires livestock producers to employ specified non-lethal measures to deter wolves from preying on livestock before WDFW will consider lethal action. In this case, the producer employed several approved deterrents:

Using range riders to keep watch over his herd;
Calving outside of occupied wolf range;
Delaying turning out cattle until July 10 – a month later than usual – when calving is finished and the calves are larger and less prone to predation;
Removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd; and
Removing sick and injured livestock from the grazing area.
Between Aug. 20 and 26, before WDFW had confirmed any depredations by wolves, three dead calves were found on the grazing allotment. The cause of their deaths could not be determined because most of their flesh and hides were gone.

At that point, the range riders increased their patrols and helped the producer attempt to move the livestock away from the area where they suspected wolf activity.

The producer is continuing his efforts to move the cattle, and WDFW deployed Foxlights to deter wolves from preying on those remaining at the site.

The goal of lethal removal as described in the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan is to manage wolf-livestock conflicts to minimize livestock losses without undermining the recovery of a sustainable wolf population. The purpose of the OPT lethal action is to change wolf pack behavior to reduce the potential for continued depredations on livestock while continuing to promote wolf recovery.

Consistent with the terms of the plan and protocol, the rationale for lethal removal of OPT wolves is as follows:

WDFW has documented six wolf depredations by the pack within the last 30 days. All of the incidents were confirmed wolf depredations, which resulting in one dead calf and five injured calves. All six depredations in this area occurred since Sept. 4;
At least two pro-active deterrence measures and various responsive measures, put in place after the initial depredations, have failed to meet the goal of changing pack behavior to reduce the potential for continued predation on livestock;
WDFW expects depredations to continue based of the history of depredations;
The department has documented the use of appropriate deterrents and has informed the public in a timely manner, as described in the protocol; and
The lethal removal of wolves is not expected to harm the wolf population’s ability to reach recovery objectives statewide or within the state’s eastern recovery region.
The department will keep the public informed about this activity through weekly updates, and will issue a final report on any lethal removal actions after the operation has concluded.

“This is a very difficult situation, especially given the history of wolf-livestock conflict in this area,” Susewind said. “We are committed to working with a diversity of stakeholders in a collaborative process to seek other creative and adaptive solutions to prevent future losses of wolves and livestock.”

The presence of the OPT pack was documented after WDFW completed its annual survey of the state’s wolf population in March. The survey identified 22 wolf packs and a minimum of 122 wolves. Annual surveys have shown the population growing at a rate of about 30 percent each year.

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Nonselective Ocean Coho Update.

The good news is the ODFW did the right thing and increased the 3,500 coho quota to 7,600 – an increase of 117 percent. The bad news is that if they had not done that, the 2,739 coho salmon caught and kept in the ocean would have represented more than 78 percent of the original quota.

The additional 4,100 cohos addes to the original nonselective quota was derived through a complex ODFW formula on the 23,370 cohos that were left of the 35,000 finclipped coho quota for the ocean coho season that ended September 3rd. It seems that each finclipped coho left from that quota translated to .175 salmon in the current season.

But even a little bit helps and the added cohos allow the season to extend through September 14th and 15th and possibly the following Friday and Saturday.

Charleston was the “hottest” port during the first two-day opener of the nonselective coho season with .87 retained salmon per angler-trip.

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Oregon Suffers First Fatality Due to Attack From a Wild Cougar.

While hiking Mt. Hood, Diana Bober, age 55, of Gresham became Oregon’s first fatality attributed to a wild cougar.

Rick Hopkins, a cougar researcher and expert in San Jose, Calif., said there have been fewer than 30 fatal cougar attacks on humans in North America in the past 100 years. Hopkins also stated that it will be extremely difficult for Oregon authorities to find the cougar responsible for the attack, largely because of the length of time since the attack on Bober, who disappeared Aug. 29. Bober’s car was found at the Zigzag Ranger Station on Saturday. Her body was found on the Hunchback Trail near Welches, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Hopkins also said it will be extremely difficult for Oregon authorities to find the cougar responsible for the attack on Bober, largely because of the length of time since the attack on Bober, who disappeared Aug. 29.

The cougar in question could easily have traveled 15 or more miles away, and there could be “15 to 18 cougars” within a 10-mile radius of where she was found, Hopkins said.

“The question becomes, do you take the position that you’re going to kill everything you see in a 10-mile radius?” he said.

Oregon was the last west coast state to be able to claim that it had not suffered a fatal attack from a wild cougar although an employee at a game park in Sherwood suffered a fatality due to a cougar attack in 2013.

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Oregon Adjusts Nonselective Ocean Coho Season.

9/12/18 ACTION NOTICE – Recreational Ocean Salmon: NOAA Fisheries in consultation with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, representatives from the recreational salmon fishery, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council and members of the Salmon Technical Team, has taken in-season action with respect to the recreational salmon fishery in the area from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain.

ACTIONS TAKEN:

There will be an impact neutral rollover of 23,370 coho from the mark selective summer season to the non mark selective September season. This results in a net increase of 4,100 coho in the September season and a revised quota of 7,600 coho.
The September non selective coho season will be open on Friday, September 14 through Saturday, September 15 for all salmon.
RATIONALE AND NOTES: The recreational season in the area from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. landed an estimated 11,630 coho during the June 30 to September 3 mark selective season. This left 23,370 coho available to rollover on an impact neutral basis to the September non selective coho season which is open each Friday and Saturday in September or the quota of 3,500 coho. The result of the impact neutral rollover was a net of 4,100 coho to be added to the September non selective coho season. During the first open period in the non selective coho season in September, there were a total of 2,739 coho landed leaving 761 coho on the quota, and there would not have been enough coho to reopen for another day of fishing. With the revised remaining quota of 4,861 coho, it was confirmed that the season will be able to reopen for September 14-15 (Friday-Saturday). Catches from this opening will be evaluated next week to determine if enough coho remain for any additional days of fishing.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 9 / 12 / 2018

The summer all-depth halibut season for the central coast subarea is now closed. During the August 31-September 1 opening there were 19,725 pounds landed. Fish had an average weight of 33 pounds round weight. Coast wide the success rate was a little under 50%. With approximately 2,800 pounds left, there is not enough quota left for any additional all-depth days. Therefore, the summer all-depth season is closed. The remaining poundage from the spring and summer all-depth fisheries will be transferred to the nearshore fishery.

The Nearshore Season, which began June 1st is open seven days per week. Through September 2 there has been a total of 21,824 pounds landed, leaving 4,032 pounds (15%) of the initial quota remaining. With the leftover from the all-depth season, the adjusted allocation remaining is approximately 14,000 pounds. The average weight of landed fish so far this year has been approximately 25 pounds round weight. South of Humbug Mountain subarea—there has been a total of 3,659 pounds landed. This leaves 5,323 pounds (59%) of the quota remaining. Average weight of fish landed so far has been approximately 32 pounds round weight.

The final data for the ocean finclipped coho season, which ended on September 3rd, is now in. Starting at the northern end of our zone the total angler trips per port were: Garibaldi (4,114 trips); Pacific City (2,670 trips); Depoe Bay (5,150 trips); Newport (11,693 trips); Florence (1,128 trips); Winchester Bay (7,638 trips); Charleston (1,158 trips); Bandon (108 trips); Gold Beach (57 trips); Brookings (4,841 trips).

As for percentage of coho salmon that were finclipped by port: Garibaldi (817 of 2,098 – 39%); Pacific City (1,140 of 2,796 – 40.8 %); Depoe Bay (2,026 of 6,831 – 29.7%); Newport (5,802 of 18,637 – 31.1%); Florence (356 of 1,662 – 21.4%); Winchester Bay (1,296 of 9,234 – 14%); Charleston (171 of 1,340 – 12.8%); Bandon (8 of 36 – 22.2%); Gold Beach (0 of 0 – 0%); Brookings (18 of 594 – 3%).

Season success rates bases on retained salmon per angler trip by port are: Garibaldi(.24); Pacific City (.55); Depoe Bay (.46); Newport (.54); Florence (.36); Winchester Bay (.23); Charleston (.22); Bandon (.10); Gold Beach (.00); Brookings (.24).

In fairness to Brookings, 1,160 of 1,178 of the port’s retained salmon – or 98.5 percent were chinook salmon.

As for ocean salmon, last Friday and Saturday were nonselective salmon days where any coho salmon at least 16-inches long and any chinooks at least 24-inches long are legal to keep – subject to the two salmon per day daily limit. The season will continue on Fridays and Saturdays of each week until the quota of 3,500 coho salmon is reached. Expect a short ocean season for cohos, but the ocean chinook season will run through October.

The most confusion will be among river salmon anglers, some of whom will think they can retain any coho salmon during the ocean nonselective season. Finclipped coho salmon from 15 to 20-inches (jacks) and more than 20-inches (adults) are legal to keep all year in rivers that allow the retention of finclipped steelhead.

Lake Marie, which received two recent trout plants, should be fishing well for trout. Trout fishing should be improving for native, carryover and searun trout in larger coastal lakes like Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes.

There should be plenty of planted trout left in the north arm of Cleawox Lake, which is essentially disconnected from the main body of the lake and therefore receives very little fishing pressure – even though many trout planted in the spring end up in the north arm.

Bluegills should still be biting well in Eel and Loon lakes, but they won’t be near the shoreline or in shallow water like they were in the spring and summer.

Striped bass should be biting better in slightly cooler water on the Smith and Coquille rivers. Most of the recent striper catches on the Coquille River have been in the lower river within ten miles of Bandon.

Ocean crabbing out of Winchester Bay has been very good, although some crabbers were griping about the recent dredging. Commercial crabbing in the ocean has been closed since mid-August and recreational ocean crabbing will close on October 15th. Crabbing on the lower Umpqua River has been good with good catches being made as far upriver as a mile above Winchester Bay.

Most serious bottomfish anglers have found they like the long leader technique that allows them to retain ten mid-depth bottomfish per day in marine waters at least 240 feet deep. Marine anglers fishing water less than 180 feet deep can use convention gear and can keep lingcod – but must deal with a daily limit of four bottomfish and two lingcod. Cabezon are still under an emergency closure due to overharvest.

I intended to report the results of the recent Labor Day Salmon Derby this week, but as I am writing this I haven’t received the results. When I get them, I’ll report them.

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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Most of the Columbia River ClosIng to Salmon and Steelhead Fishing.

Starting Thursday (Sept. 13), fishing for salmon will be closed on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to Hwy 395 in Pasco under new rules approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon

Deep River in Washington and other tributaries in Oregon (Youngs Bay, Tongue Point/South Channel, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough) are also closed to salmon and steelhead angling.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) already prohibited steelhead retention in much of the same area of the Columbia River several weeks ago, and the new emergency rule closes angling for both salmon and steelhead in those waters as well.

Bill Tweit, Columbia River fishery coordinator for WDFW, said the counts of fall chinook at Bonneville Dam are 29 percent below preseason forecasts, and on-going fisheries are approaching the allowable catch limits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“We recognize that this closure is difficult for anglers, but we have an obligation to meet our ESA goals so that fisheries can continue in the future,” he said.

Tweit said the upriver fall chinook run provides the bulk of the harvest opportunity for fall fisheries, but that returns in recent years has been declining due to unfavorable ocean conditions. The preseason forecast for this year is 47 percent of the 10-year average return of upriver bright fall chinook.

The new emergency fishing rule is posted on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

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