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Author Archives: Pete Heley
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.)
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding anglers that multiple changes to the recreational groundfish regulations have gone into effect for 2019. The new regulations were adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in mid-December. Anglers should check CDFW’s website for the current regulations before fishing for groundfish, as changes can occur in-season. Groundfish regulations printed in the 2018-19 ocean regulations book are now out of date.
CDFW worked closely with recreational stakeholders to develop the following changes:
- A decrease to the daily bag and possession limit for lingcod from two to one fish in the Mendocino, San Francisco, Central and Southern Management Areas. The Northern Management Area lingcod bag limit remains at two fish. CDFW recently published a blog post that provides a detailed explanation about this change.
- Boat-based fishing for groundfish in the San Francisco Management Area opens on April 1, two weeks earlier than last year.
- California scorpionfish (sometimes referred to as sculpin) is now open year-round in the Southern Management Area.
- The Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) boundary has increased to 75 fathoms (450 feet) in the Southern Management Area.
- The depth limit has increased to 40 fathoms (240 feet) inside the Cowcod Conservation Area, where select groundfish species may be taken or possessed.
- The 40 and 75 fathom depth boundaries are defined by federal waypoints and can be found in Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, Part 660, Subpart C.
Many of these changes were made in response to the outcomes of recent stock assessment science. Populations of yelloweye rockfish and cowcod, which were declared overfished in 2002 and 2000, respectively are increasing faster than anticipated. The improved status of these species allowed fishery managers to recommend management measures that provide some additional fishing opportunity. Similarly, in the spring of 2018, the canary rockfish sub-bag limit increased to two fish statewide, as the catch of this recently rebuilt stock was well under the recently increased harvest limit.
Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remains prohibited statewide. For more detailed information on the new 2019 recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or visit CDFW’s summary of recreational groundfish fishing regulations for 2019. For background information on groundfish science and management, please visit CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish webpage.
Macroinvertebrates Meet Microplastics
Our planet is awash in plastic. It’s ubiquitous, takes hundreds of years to degrade, and more is constantly being produced. Numerous studies have assessed plastic making its way into food webs, and the potentially fatal effects it can have on organisms around the world; however, only a mere 4 percent of these studies have focused on freshwater systems. While the oceans represent a much larger proportion of the Earth’s total water than rivers (about 97 percent compared to less than one percent), the continuous injection of plastic into our planet’s freshwater veins still warrants investigation. Since waterways are interconnected, rivers actually contribute an enormous proportion of the pollution that ends up in the oceans. In fact, just 10 rivers contribute 88 to 95 percent of the global plastic load flowing into the ocean. While seeking to expand the limited scientific understanding of the effects of plastic in freshwater systems, a team of researchers from Wales recently discovered that plastic is even being eaten by the smallest insects at the base of river food webs (Windsor et al. 2019).
Many types of plastic take hundreds of years to degrade completely, but over that time they break down into progressively smaller pieces. Such pieces that are less than five millimeters across are referred to as microplastics, and these tiny fragments can be ingested by primary consumers (small organisms at the bottom of the food chain) and spread throughout a food web. This has been extensively studied in marine animals like corals, but most studies in freshwater have focused on larger animals like fish, which are higher up in the food web. Because primary consumers are eaten by other animals, the plastic they consume is passed along, and each step up the food web leads to a larger and larger accumulation of microplastics in a process known as biomagnification. To study this process, researchers collected specimens representing three abundant macroinvertebrate groups – two mayfly families and one caddisfly family – from sites both above and below wastewater treatment facilities in the Task, Usk, and Wye rivers of Wales. The treatment plants were of interest because such facilities have been identified as major contributors of microplastic particles. The scientists identified and counted plastic particles in the gut contents of the collected macroinvertebrates using a combination of light microscopes and spectroscopy.
Alarmingly, microplastics were found in macroinvertebrates from every single sample site, and overall were in the stomachs of half of all individuals. Larger individuals tended to ingest more plastic, but individuals belonging to all three families had consumed plastic despite their different feeding strategies (filter feeders versus grazers). The researchers’ findings indicate that plastic was abundant in the rivers, and not just near the water treatment plants. Larger plastics like bottles or bags may be a significant and widespread source of microplastics in the rivers, which may mask the effects of plastic input from the treatment plants. Although the transfer of microplastics up the food chain has only been documented in marine ecosystems, the authors suggest that the plastic in the guts of macroinvertebrates is likely being passed along from prey to predator.
With little scientific understanding about the risks of microplastics to both freshwater invertebrates and their predators, the topic is an important focus for future research. This study demonstrates that plastic exists both in rivers and in food webs, but we know next to nothing about where it is coming from, how it is distributed, and what damaging effects it might be having. Only by learning how plastic moves through the environment and the food web can managers and scientists hope to develop methods to reduce these risks. The dangers of plastic pollution often bring to mind great gyres of garbage in our oceans and ingestion by charismatic animals like sea turtles; however, it’s now clear that plastic dangers do not only exist at sea. The lowly insects in our streams may be mostly out of sight, but we should be concerned about the plastic these bugs are eating, and about the fish in turn that are eating them.
The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1041.76 feet – rising .28 feet over the past two weeks. The water temperature on the Reservoir is in the low to mid-30s. The Potholes Reservoir is ice free and we have highs in the mid to low 40’s with lows in upper 20’s forecast for the next 10 days.
The walleye fishing remains good. Vertically jig or cast Blade Baits over humps topping out at 18-25 feet of water. Fish the tops of the humps down to about 40 feet. Several Burbot have been caught by folks jigging for walleye and using bait on the bottom in 25-35 feet of water.
Trout anglers are concentrating on the Medicare beach area either trolling wedding ring rigs with a worm or Needlefish. From shore – fish Power Bait or a marshmallow/egg combination.
Ducks remain in the area – but the mild weather continues to make the hunting unpredictable and the birds are smart. The warm temperatures and lack of ice is making it difficult to pattern the birds. We have had several reports of good jump-shooting along the waste-ways for Mallards. Goose hunting continues to be very productive – with several Snow Geese being taken!
Thousands of water birds died of an avian cholera outbreak at the south end of the Salton Sea between Jan. 8-17. Outbreaks like this one occur annually as a result of birds flocking closely together during migration.
On Jan. 8, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began receiving reports of hundreds of dead birds at the south end of the Salton Sea from local waterfowl hunters and staff at the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge (SBNWR). CDFW investigated the event and discovered over a thousand bird carcasses concentrated around Bruchard Bay west of the New River. Over the next week, staff from CDFW and SBNWR collected more than 1,200 carcasses consisting of mainly Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Black-necked Stilts and Gulls. Most carcasses were incinerated at SBNWR to reduce the spread of disease; however, several samples were shipped to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova to determine the cause of death. The samples tested positive for avian cholera.
Avian cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. Outbreaks occur annually during the winter in California and may result in the deaths of thousands of birds. Waterfowl and coots are the most commonly affected. Pasteurella multocida is released into the environment by dead and dying birds or asymptomatic carriers, and is transmitted through direct bird-to-bird contact or through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Predatory and scavenging birds may acquire avian cholera by feeding on infected birds. Avian cholera is transmitted easily between birds when they flock together in high densities. Birds are most susceptible to the disease during stressful periods, especially during the winter months when birds congregate at key water sources during migration, and the weather is cold and damp.
Avian cholera can affect rabbits and mice but not other mammals. It is not considered a high risk disease for humans. However, hunters should always cook their game thoroughly. For more information, please refer to the full Field Guide to Wildlife Diseases.
CDFW staff will continue monitoring and collecting carcasses around the Salton Sea over the next few weeks. CDFW’s Bermuda Dunes Field Office, Wildlife Investigations Lab and local game wardens will continue to coordinate with partners, including staff at SBNWR and the Imperial Wildlife Area – Wister Unit to share information and prepare to respond should the die off increase.
CDFW is also asking club owners and habitat managers to make a report if multiple dead birds are found on their property. Reports can be made to CDFW’s Dead Bird Hotline at 1 (877) 968-2473.
A San Jose man was recently convicted in Santa Cruz Superior Court for unlawfully killing a Great White Shark (also known as a White Shark) in Santa Cruz County last summer.
Vinh Pham, 41, was fined $5,000 and placed on conditional probation for two years. The court also ordered his firearm to be destroyed.
Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began their investigation on June 17, 2018, immediately after the nine-foot male White Shark washed up on Beer Can Beach in Aptos. A necropsy (animal autopsy) performed on the shark confirmed that it had been killed by multiple shots from a .22 caliber firearm.
Soon after, CDFW received a tip on its CalTIP reporting line that a member of a commercial fishing boat crew may have been responsible for the shark’s death. Officers investigated the tip that night and observed the vessel fishing after dark near where the shark was discovered. Two wildlife officers contacted the crew as the vessel returned to Santa Cruz Harbor early the next morning.
A regular commercial fishing inspection uncovered multiple violations involving their catch for that day, including possession of undersize halibut, no landing receipts, failure to weigh their commercial catch and failure to turn in landing receipts. During this investigation, the officers located a fully loaded .22 caliber rifle concealed behind the seat of the truck the suspect was using to transport his commercial catch to markets. Officers seized the rifle as evidence, then submitted both the rifle and the .22 bullets extracted during the shark necropsy to the California Department of Justice crime lab to see if they matched.As the investigation progressed, Pham confessed, claiming he shot the shark after seeing it swimming near the wings of his deployed fishing net.
On Jan. 14, 2019, Pham pled to multiple charges including wanton waste of the White Shark, possessing a loaded rifle in his vehicle, possessing undersize halibut, failing to accurately weigh his catch, failing to complete landing receipts and failing to submit landing receipts.
CDFW thanks Assistant District Attorney Ed Browne of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting the case.If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips may also be submitted to CDFW using tip411, an internet-based tool that enables wildlife officers respond directly to the reporting party, initiating a two-way conversation. Tipsters may remain anonymous if they choose. Tips can be sent to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).
A current hot topic on the internet is the number of complaints regarding undersized crabs that are being sold in larger markets from Newport north to Astoria and in the Portland area. The complaints are surprising in that the commercial crab fishery is closely regulated to the point where any long term benefit from selling undersized dungeness crabs would be unlikely. It is interesting that none of the complaining posters has yet to actually measure any of the” undersized” crabs.
The commercial crab fishery doesn’t need any more negative news as the last several years have featured several toxin-related closures.
In fact, the commercial crab fishery in northern California just reopened after being closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid in tested crabs.
In a move that is becoming evermore common, the launch ramp at Garibaldi doubled its launch fee to $10.00. I hope that the people capable of deciding the launching fees for the ramps in Winchester Bay and Reedsport don’t get any similar ideas as the well-maintained launch ramps in these two communities seem to be becoming an ever-bigger bargain.
Steve Godin, this year’s president of Oregon Coast Anglers, announced that the membership is donating $1,000 to the Chief Petty Officers Association, located in North Bend The check will be designated to be used for members of the North Bend, Coos Bay, Umpqua River and Florence US Coast Guard Squadrons. Bandon is supported by the Coos Bay Squadron. OCA members use these ports frequently for ocean excursions. and Steve urges OCA members and other other area outdoor sportsmen to do what they can to help these servicemen, who unlike the members of other military forces, will not be receiving paychecks until the government shutdown is over.
Recent legislation now allows the lethal targeting of Steller sea lions in certain areas of the Columbia River. Up to now only California sea lions have been lethally removed at Bonneville Dam by ODFW and WDFW. But Steller sea lions are an increasing Columbia River problem. These much larger “salmon-eating machines” are now present at Bonneville Dam for ten months per year (compared to the California sea lion’s seven month stay) – and though they are known for targetting, killing and eating surprisingly big sturgeon – they are now consuming more Columbia Riber salmon and steelhead than the California sea lions.
According to a study quoted in the latest issue of the Columbia Basin Bulletin, Stellers eat 4.4 percent of the steelhead run and 2 percent of the spring chinook run – compared with California’s 0.9 percent of the steelhead run and 0.7 percent of the spring chinook run.
Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commission now supports crafting fishing seasons that consider orcas’ dietary needs – The Commission has signaled its support for state fishery managers’ plans to consider the dietary needs of endangered orcas when they set this year’s salmon-fishing seasons. The policy also calls on WDFW to take steps to protect southern resident killer whales (SRKW) from disruptions from fishing vessel traffic.
Some ice fishing took place at Diamond Lake last week, but warmer temperatures and a fair amount of rain put a stop to it. Anglers fishing the larger coast lakes for the next five weeks should be catching some very girthy yellow perch.
It’s getting to be the time of year for Oregon’s fishing and outdoor recreation shows. I am going to mention them in chronlogical order. Since all of the shows are informative and entertaining – it will be up to you to visit their respective websites for additional information regarding show hours, admission fees and exhibitors. Since the shows’ tickets seem to get more expensive every year, I encourage you to use discount tickets (Bi-Mart) and make sure to sign up for “free stuff” like the one-year subscription to “Northwest Sportsman” which is available at some of the upcoming shows.
February 1st – 3rd
KEZI EUGENE Boat and Sportsmen’s Show
at 796 W 13th Ave, Eugene (Lane Events Center)
Feb. 6th – 10th
Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show
at the Portland Expo Center
2060 North Marine Dr, Portland,
February 15th – 17th
Roseburg Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Show
at the Douglas County Fairgrounds
2110 Frear St, Roseburg
Feb. 22nd – 24th
KVRD Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreational Show
at the Jackson County Fairgrounds
1 Peninger Rd, Central Point
Lower Umpqua Flycasters Fly Fishing Expo
at the Reedsport Community Center
451 Winchester Avenue, Reedsport
February 28th – 3rd
Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show
at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds
3800 SE Airport Way, Redmond
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.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to appeal a decision by the City of Wenatchee that denies the department’s bid to require mitigation for impacts to mule deer from a 13-acre subdivision under development in the Wenatchee Foothills.
The department intends to file its appeal in Chelan County Superior Court next week, said Jim Brown, WDFW regional director.
Brown said WDFW is concerned about the loss of prime mule deer habitat and the potential for human-wildlife conflicts resulting from the Black Rock Terrace development, located near Skyline Drive within Wenatchee’s city limits.
He noted that the land under development for a subdivision is designated by the state as priority mule deer habitat and supports the largest herd of wintering mule deer in Chelan County.
“We’re not trying to stop the project, but we do ask that the developer help to mitigate potential conflicts with deer and for lost wildlife habitat,” Brown said. “At minimum, we would expect conflicts to include an increase in collisions with deer and complaints about damage to landscaping around homes from deer eating ornamental plants.”
Mitigation measures sought by WDFW include:
- Clustering development in order to maintain migration corridors for mule deer;
- Adding signage cautioning drivers to watch for deer;
- Installing deer fencing around the development to minimize human-deer interactions;
- Shielding lights to reduce glare and light;
- Using cattle guards across ungated driveways to keep deer out of yards;
- Installing native shrub-steppe vegetation to provide a functional strip of habitat;
- Requiring that pets be leashed when they’re outside fenced yards; and
- Minimizing disturbance of vegetation on the property and controlling invasive and noxious weed species.
A city hearing examiner denied WDFW’s mitigation request at a hearing Dec. 14, 2018, and again on reconsideration Jan. 7, 2019.
Brown said WDFW designates the area scheduled for development as priority habitat for mule deer, and the City of Wenatchee’s comprehensive plan calls for “appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures” for development in habitat conservation areas.
The city acknowledged WDFW’s priority habitat designation in its Mitigated Determination of Non-significance environmental statement for the Black Rock project, but Brown said the only mitigation it required was installation of a six-foot fence.
Brown said the city relied on the applicant’s mitigation plan, which relied on an outdated 2010 report to characterize the project site as a “low” priority area for mule-deer habitat. More recent information that reflects the significant impact of recent wildfires on that area, he said.
“The project’s consultant has since said the site is frequently used by mule deer for winter foraging,” he said. “We simply want to work with the city to reduce the impacts of the project on mule deer and area residents before the development moves forward.”