Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lake Chelan Mackinaw Fishery Still Super

The mackinaw fishery at Lake Chelan is still very, very good and limit and near-limit catches are the rule when the angler is a guide or experienced mac angler. Although recent catches have generally been running three to five pounds, it seems that fish approaching the 20 pound mark are taken weekly and the new Washington state record, a fish of nearly 36 pounds was taken just last week.chelan-jh-2A typical catch of Lake Chelan Mackinaw taken on a guided trip with Joe Heinlein of Lake Chelan Fishing Adventues (509-393-9665).

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Washington Warmwater Fish To Receive Heavy Blow

WA-Losers-LI have long been a fan of the way Washington has managed its warmwater or spiny ray fisheries. However, they really “missed the boat” on one approved proposal.

While I cannot find much, if any, fault with their proposal to increase the daily catch limit for walleyes in Lake Roosevelt. The actual proposal, which is slated to go into effect on May 1st of this year reads: “Increasing the daily catch limit for walleye from eight to 16 fish in Lake Roosevelt and a portion of the Spokane River – waters where there is an overabundance of walleye. The rule is designed to bring the walleye population back into balance with other fish populations, improving the quality of the fisheries. The rule also opens that portion of the Spokane River to the harvest of walleye year round.” I believe the new regulation will somewhat reduce the walleye population and hopefully improve the growth rate and average size of the walleyes being harvested. I also believe that hardly anyone is going to catch 16 walleyes in a single day.

The regulation that really boggles my mind is the one that reads: “Removing the daily catch limit for channel catfish and the daily catch and size limits for bass and walleye in portions of the Columbia and Snake rivers and their tributaries to assist recovery efforts for salmon and steelhead. The changes are designed to increase the harvest of abundant bass, walleye and channel catfish, which prey on juvenile salmon and steelhead that are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.”

While I understand that some of these waters won’t be subject to the upcoming limit removal (because some river sections are shared with other states such as Oregon (Columbia) and Idaho (Snake), this upcoming regulation change, which is scheduled to begin May 1st is going to have a whole bunch of unintended consequences.

Here are some of them:

(1) – There will be a slight decrease in the numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleyes and channel catfish in the sections of the Columbia where the new regulation is in effect. The people that avidly fish for the walleyes, bass and channel catfish are going to be even stronger practitioners of catch and release. However, there will be a few people that will exceed the old limits on especially productive days.

(2) – The salmon, steelhead crowd is going to feel victorious because their fish was deemed far more important than those other fish and they will continue to feel that way even when some other effects of this regulation kick in – like

(3) – Their favorite spots are more crowded as the warmwater anglers that didn’t quit fishing are now directly competing with them for their salmon, steelhead and sturgeon – and

(4) – Their license fees increased more sharply than every before, because a certain percentage of those warmwater anglers quit fishing completely – causing a decrease in license revenues.

(5) -A few of the warmwater anglers that feel they were wronged will seek revenge in one of the only avenues left to them which is to haul fish into trout fisheries, some of them pretty good ones, in an effort to reverse the “flow of grief”.

(6) – Bass clubs will exist in a state of fear knowing that any time their right to release their tournament catches may be made illegal.

(7) – Professional and novice anglers that fish for pikeminnows for money will soon be making even more money as the numbers of pikeminnows in the Columbia and Snake rivers increases sharply due to reduced predation on the smaller pikeminnows by bass, catfish and walleyes.

(8) – Everything will get even worse should Oregon adopt the same regulation allowing it to take effect along the entire shared portion of the Columbia and Idaho doing likewise, allowing the regulation to effect the shared portion of the Snake River.

(9) – The fisheries agencies will discover that almost all of their anglers will still be unhappy and they will have even less excuses than before.

(10) – The eventual end result will be that the different fishing factions will be even more divided and their overall effect will be diminished because of it.

WA-Losers-R

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Surfperch Fishing Bonus

While it has been awhile since striped bass have been incidental catches along Oregon beaches, an angler fishing the North Beach Area off of Sparrow Park Road (starts at the top of the hill on 101 just north of Gardiner) ended up with an impressive bonus to an already nice catch of redtailed surfperch (“pinkfins”).

They were using two hook rigs with sand shrimp on one hook and a half of a six-inch Berkley sand worm on the other hook (as an insurance policy to avoid fishing with no bait). This rather large finclilpped steelhead grabbed the three-inch portion of the Berkley sand worm and put up a rather stubborn fightt on the surfperch outfit.

Sparrow Park Steelhead

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House Bill 2529 Is a Heavy-Handed Over-Response

Bill Lackner, of Newport, emailed me a copy of HB2529 – which seems to be overly-severe when applied to peaceful protesters.

77th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY–2013 Regular Session

NOTE:  Matter within  { +  braces and plus signs + } in an
amended section is new. Matter within  { –  braces and minus
signs – } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within
{ +  braces and plus signs + } .

LC 1122

House Bill 2595

Introduced and printed pursuant to House Rule 12.00. Presession
filed (at the request of House Interim Committee on Judiciary)

SUMMARY

The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the
measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to
consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor’s
brief statement of the essential features of the measure as
introduced.

Creates crime of interference with state forestland management
in the second degree. Makes violation subject to maximum penalty
of one year’s imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both.
Creates crime of interference with state forestland management
in the first degree. Makes violation subject to maximum penalty
of five years’ imprisonment, $125,000 fine, or both.  Requires
mandatory minimum term of 13 months’ imprisonment for first
conviction and five years’ imprisonment for subsequent
convictions.

A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to interference with forest management.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
SECTION 1.  { + (1) As used in this section:
(a) ‘Access road’ means a road owned or maintained by the State
Forestry Department as a means of reaching the exterior boundary
of state forestland.
(b) ‘Forest practice’ has the meaning given that term in ORS
527.620.
(c) ‘State forestland’ means:
(A) Forestland acquired under ORS 530.010 to 530.040; and
(B) Common School Forest Lands and Elliott State Forest Lands
managed under ORS 530.490.
(2) A person commits the crime of interference with state
forestland management in the second degree if:
(a) The State Forestry Department or any public or private
entity authorized by the department is performing or attempting
to perform a forest practice on state forestland; and
(b) The person, while on state forestland or on an access road,
intentionally hinders, impairs or obstructs, or attempts to
hinder, impair or obstruct, the performance of the forest
practice.
(3) The crime of interference with state forestland management
in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. + }
SECTION 2.  { + (1) As used in this section:
(a) ‘Access road,’ ‘forest practice’ and ‘state forestland’
have the meanings given those terms in section 1 of this 2013
Act.
(b) ‘Law enforcement officer’ means a person employed in this
state as a police officer by:
(A) A county sheriff, constable or marshal; or
(B) A municipal or state police agency.
(2) A person commits the crime of interference with state
forestland management in the first degree if:
(a) The State Forestry Department or any public or private
entity authorized by the department is performing or attempting
to perform a forest practice on state forestland;
(b) The person, while on state forestland or on an access road,
intentionally hinders, impairs or obstructs, or attempts to
hinder, impair or obstruct, the performance of the forest
practice;
(c) A law enforcement officer informs the person that the
person is unlawfully interfering with state forestland
management;
(d) A law enforcement officer orders the person to cease
impairing, hindering or obstructing the performance of the forest
practice, or to cease attempting to hinder, impair or obstruct
the performance of the forest practice; and
(e) The person fails to obey the order to cease hindering,
impairing or obstructing the performance of the forest practice
or attempting to hinder, impair or obstruct the performance of
the forest practice.
(3) The crime of interference with state forestland management
in the first degree is a Class C felony. Except as provided in
this subsection, a court finding a person guilty of a felony
under this section shall impose a minimum term of imprisonment of
13 months. If a person convicted of a felony under this section
has a previous conviction for violation of this section, the
court shall impose a term of imprisonment of five years. As used
in this subsection, ‘previous conviction’ means a conviction that
was entered before commission of the current crime of
conviction. + }
SECTION 3.  { + Sections 1 and 2 of this 2013 Act apply to
conduct that occurs on or after the effective date of this 2013
Act, including but not limited to any conduct on or after the
effective date of this 2013 Act that is a continuation of conduct
initiated prior to the effective date of this 2013 Act. + }
———-

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Pete Heley Outdoors 3/07/2013

The February 23rd issue of Science News had a couple of very interesting articles that should be of interest to outdoor sportsmen.  An article by Erin Wayman quotes an online article in Geophysical Research Letters that reported that evaporating water from irrigation canals and fields resulted in an increase in summer rains and an increase runoff to the Colorado River. The entire article makes interesting reading and the conclusion reached in the article was that evaporating irrigation water affected a number of climate factors and the end result was that there was a 15 percent increase in regional summer rainfall including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah and while runoff to the Colorado River increasaed 28 percent. This article will undoubtedly be much quoted in the ongoing battle over water rights between farmers and outdoor recreationists.

The second article, written by Susan Millus the incredible number of birds and small mammals that are killed each year by feral cats and domestic cats that are able to roam free outside the home. The article quotes Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute as saying such cats “kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds each year”. What was less clear was what proportion of the total bird population the cats killed each year and how could the problem be addressed.

A good way to keep up on marine fishing topics is to go to the ODFW website and subscribe to receive information via emails or text messages. To sign up go to http://dfw.state.or.us/MRP/bulletins/index.asp and enter your phone for text alerts and e-mail information to subscribe to email updates. It’s easy to unsubscribe at any time. Your phone and e-mail information will remain confidential. Six different lists of interest to ocean enthusiasts are available: Bottomfish (recreational), Halibut (recreational), Ocean Salmon (recreational), Ocean Salmon (commercial troll), Commercial Nearshore Groundfish, and Marine Reserves.

The end of this month marks the annual six month closure to fishing the ocean for bottomfish in waters deeper than 180 feet (30 fathoms).

Locally, crabbing remains good at Charleston and only fair at Winchester Bay. A lack of commercial crabbing near Winchester Bay, coupled with gradually declining Umpqua River flows should allow crabbing to gradually improve, but right now the boat crappers which are crabbing in and acrooss the river from Half Moon Bay are doing better than the dock crabbers who can only crab as far downriver as the Coast Guard Pier. The few crabbers that use crab snares or are dragging small craft into the Triangle Area are doing rather well on both dungeness and red rock crabs.

While the South Jetty is still fishing well when the weather and ocean conditions permit, most of the recent catches of lingcod have been small. Greenling and striped surfperch, as usual, dominate the jetty catch and the numbers of striped surfperch caught recently has increased. On an unusual note, a couple of anglers reported to a friend of mine that they caught some surfperch and rockfish near the pilings straight out from the Coast Guard Pier.
In the last month, fishing for hybrid striped bass in Ana Reservoir has been good, but a large percentage of the bass landed have been fish that have been stocked within the last couple of years and are short of the 16-inch minimum length limit. Ice fishing for rainbow trout at Diamond Lake remains fair to good, but as more trout are pulled out of the lake, it is reasonable to expect fishing to gradually slow. Recently, anglers have been averaging around one trout landed for every  two hours of fishing. Managing the lake now that it is open to year-round fishing will probably be a learning experience for ODFW personnel, but a slightly reduced trout population should mean even faster trout growth than normal.

The number of cutthroat trout weighing nore thabn ten pounds that have come out of Nevada’s Pyramid Lake is hard to believe and some of those trout have weighed between 17 and 24 pounds. This year’s catch of truly lunker cutts has been several times that of most years – and hopefully future years won’t suffer because of this year’s success.

Josh Lindberg of Eugene had more than his share of excitement while visiting Winchester Bay last weekend. Josh and two of his friends were fishing off the South Jetty inside the Triangle, on Saturday, when a sleeper wave came across the jetty and threw them into the water with enough force that Josh said he felt his cheek brush the bottom. Despite wearing backpacks, all three managed to swim to safety, but they suffered some serious scapes and contusions. They lost their stringer of fish. Josh lost his wallet. But one of Josh’s friends proudly held up a bag he had managed to hold on while he was treading water only to discover that it was the plastic bag they had put their trash into. Ironically, Josh’s other friend hooked a small flounder while he was treading water and the feisty fish, despite wrapping the line around Josh, was landed – allowing the group to keep the group from going fishless.

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Pikeminnow Primer

Formerly known as squawfish, pikeminnows are a very widespread, but overlooked fish. There are four different species of pikeminnows including the Colorado pikeminnow, the Sacramento pikeminnow, the northern pikeminnow and the Umpqua pikeminnow.

The Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) is probably the most overlooked pikeminnow species and numerous articles have claimed that this largest of the pikeminnows is capable of reaching lengths approaching six feet and weights of at least 80 pounds. However, try to find anyone who has actually seen a Colorado pikeminnow even approaching 30 pounds. The maximum sizes of this fish is almost certainly based on historic records based on unreliable eyewitness accounts. However, like other members of the pikeminnow family, Colorado pikeminnows are capable of living many years and the size range between adult fish can be considerable. The Colorado pikeminnow is native to the Colorado River basin and due to the contstruction of a number of dams on the river, historic spawning sites are now either completely changed or unreachable – the pikeminnow population is becoming increasing rare.

The Sacramento pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis ) is the second largest member of the pikeminnow family and once was found in the Los Angeles River, Russian River, Salinas River and Clear Lake, but is now primarily restricted to the Russian River and the Sacramento River system. However, it is widely spread throughout the Sacramento River system and specimens approaching or even exceeding 15 pounds have been caught in Lake Almanor. Largely blamed for their consumption of salmon, steelhead and trout smolts, fishermen have also observed them invading smallmouth bass nests in Lake Almanor – however, Almanor’s smallmouth bass population remains robust.

n. pikeminnow

The northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis) in addition to being referred to as squawfish is also called by some Columbia River Dace. It is the best known member of the pikeminnow family and is primarily restricted to the Columbia River drainage. The northern pikeminnow population in the Columbia River adapted well to the hydroelectric dams and their population increased in a major way. Their maximum size is about 27-inches and about eight pounds, but a much larger specimen, weighing more than 13 pounds, was caught in Alberta. All members of the pikeminnow family are capable of living for at least 15 years. Like other members of the pikeminnow family, the northern pikeminnow was of little interest to anglers (except for their propensity to eat salmon and steelhead smolts) until a reward program for catching Columbia River pikeminnows was started by the Bonneville Power Administration in 1991 and is still in operation.

This program known as the Pikeminnow Sports Reward Program is part of the the Northern Pikeminnow Management Program (NPMP) will start this year on May 1st and run through September 30th. Complete information on the program is available on the internet at: www.pikeminnow.org/. The long life spans of the pikeminnows pretty much ruled out any program aimed primarily at preventing spawning success and to have a near-immediate impact on pikeminnow smolt predation a significant number of adults had to be removed – and the program has been very successful and has been credited for saving millions of salmon and steelhead smolts.

The smallest member of the pikeminnow family is the Umpqua pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus umpquae). The population is pretty much restricted to three large river drainages in southwest Oregon (Umpqua, Siuslaw and Rogue rivers).

Pikeminnows reside in the Umpqua River up into both major forks (North Umpqua and South Umpqua) with the lower boundary several miles above Reedsport. The numbers of pikeminnows in the North Umpqua decrease, most likely due to cold water temperatures, the farther upstream one goes, but they exist up to Soda Springs Dam or very close to that, but rarely enter the angler’s catch. On the South Umpqua, they exist upstream at least as far as Tiller.

On the Siuslaw, they exist from above Florence to well above Mapleton and on the Lake Creek tributary, their population reaches to at least Triangle Lake.

On the Rogue River, their numbers were much reduced above Savage Rapids Dam, but with the dam’s removal, all bets are off. However, cool water releases from Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs should limit their numbers and the water temperatures on the Illinois River, a major Rogue River tributary, are cold enough to limit their numbers.

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Fishing the Surf for Redtailed Surfperch

Subject to wind and wave action, fishng for redtailed surfperch (“pinkfins”) has been quite good. The limit is still 15 (in Oregon) and they can make up a tasty fish fry

Sand shrimp is the most popular bait, but they can be in rather short supply during the winter months when freshwater can drive them deeper and also somewhat decrease how long they can be kept alive

Experienced anglers who fish the surf for the perch often do certain things to more effectively fish for them.

(1) – They use long rods which allow for slower, but still long casts and also allows an angler to hold his line above many of the surging waves.

(2) – Their choice of fishing lines is often one of the superbraids, which reduces the effect of currents and waves on the line because of its much thinner diameter. It also allows the use of lighter weights and longer casts – and since it is “no stretch”, it allows anglers to feel the lightest of bites.

(3) – There is nothing worse than fishing with no bait. Long casts, breaking waves and surging currents combined with aggressive bites from the “small-mouthed” perch can often quickly strip the soft sand shrimp from the hook. For this reason, many surf anglers use hardier baits such as squid or artificial baits such as half of a six-inch Berkley Gulp sandworm to ensure that they don’t spend a lot of time fishing with no bait.

For even more detailed fishing information regarding fishing for surfperch, one should consider the book “Winchester Bay Surfperch Guide” which covers surfperch fishing for 25 miles north and south of Winchester Bay including different techniques and baits. The book is available on this website (peteheley.com) for $3.99 + shipping.

WB Surfperch

 

 

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Columbia River Channel Cats

With ever-increasing fishing pressure directed at the channel catfish on Snake and John Day rivers, it appears that the “go-to” channel cat fishery of the near future might be the Columbia River starting with water above The Dalles Dam all the way up to the Canadian border. The upside is that the northwest’s largest channel cats reside in the Columbia and the downside is that the river is big – to the point where the average angler visiting the area doesn’t have the slightest idea where to begin fishing. Eventually more guides will start treating the Columbia’s channel cats more seriously, but in the meantime, the lack of fishing pressure on the cats tends to keep the average size larger than it would be with more fishing pressure.

These hefty Columbia River channel cats were caught near Pasco, Washington on a guided fishing trip with Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service  (www.yjguideservice.com – (509) 999-0717).

These hefty Columbia River channel cats were caught near Pasco, Washington on a guided fishing trip with Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service (www.yjguideservice.com – (509) 999-0717).

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Burbot Angling Still Going Strong

One of the most overlooked fish of interest to anglers that is present across much of the northern United States, Canada and Alaska is the burbot (Lota lota). This rarely pursued fish is also known as cusk or freshwater ling and is capable of reaching about 25 pounds in weight, but the average catch weighs three or four pounds. There are several reasons for the lack of angler pursuit and some of the reasons are: they (1) They seem to bite best in the winter in fairly deep water; (2) They bite best at night; (3) If they are not ugly, they are downright unattractive compared to most fish species anglers pursue. However, trumping everything else is that these fish are delicious.

Burbot are distributed across North American above the 40 degree north latitude line and one of the best places to fish for them is Lake Roosevelt in eastern Washington. One of the rare guides that actually targets burbot is Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service  (www.yjguideservice.com – (509) 999-0717).

Two clients showing off part of a 40 burbot catch made by four anglers in less than three hours on Lake Roosevelt while on a trip with Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service. The burbot ran from three to seven pounds. Dowdy books burbot trips from early December through March.

Two clients showing off part of a 40 burbot catch made by four anglers in less than three hours on Lake Roosevelt while on a trip with Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service. The burbot ran from three to seven pounds. Dowdy books burbot trips from early December through March.

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