Monthly Archives: December 2014

Pete Heley Outdoors 12 / 31 / 2014

Virtually all of the streams have fishable numbers of steelhead in them and fishing success can be as simple as fishing the ones that are currently in prime fishing condition. For other species, some prime choices for those able to travel are: Lake Chelan in central Washington and Crescent Lake in central Oregon for mackinaws, Pyramid Lake in western Nevada for big lahontan cutthroat trout.

Last winter, Potholes Reservoir, near Moses Lake Washington, had incredible icefishing for several weeks. The prinary fishery was for big yellow perch and rainbow trout, but many other fish species were taken incidentally by ice anglers including walleyes, bass, burbot, crappies and even channel catfish to 28 pounds.

As of last week, Diamond Lake was not yet suitable for icefishing, but with colder weather predicted, that should change. Snow flurries have blocked some of the roads around the lake.

Other winter fisheries would include bottomfishing off from jetties or out in the ocean when weather conditions permit or ocean crabbing when possible.

Winter fishing for whitefish can be very productive. The trick is to find a spot with a good population of whitefish that is open for fishing in the winter months. One of the more consistent spots used to be Crescent Creek, the outlet to Crescent Lake, but it is no longer open to winter fishing. Most whitefish anglers use small baits such as maggots or small pieces of nightcrawlers, but a few flyfish with small weighted nymphs.

Another reminder for hunters that purchased deer or elk tags for 2014 to report their success – even if they didn’t actually hunt – it could save them from paying an extra 25 dollars when they purchase their 2016 hunting license.

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Salmon River Steelhead

Bill Dilenge with two steelhead taken from the Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho. 25-incher took sand shrimp and 32-incher took a fly (egg sucking leech).

Bill Dilenge with two steelhead taken from the Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho. 25-incher took sand shrimp and 32-incher took a fly (egg sucking leech).

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Razor Clam Digs Start Dec. 31st On Washington’s Ocean Beaches

Clam diggers can ring in the New Year by filling their buckets with razor clams during an eight-day opener beginning Dec. 31.

State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

“Digging razor clams over the New Year’s holiday is a true Northwest tradition,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

The best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide, said Ayres, noting that digging is not allowed at any beach before noon.

“With afternoon low tides in their favor, diggers can hit the beach in the daylight and still have plenty of time to clean and cook their clams for a New Year’s meal,” he said.

Upcoming digs are scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

Dec. 31, Wednesday; 3:05 p.m., 0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Jan. 1, Thursday; 4:01 p.m., 0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Jan. 2, Friday; 4:49 p.m., -0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Jan. 3, Saturday; 5:32 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Jan. 4, Sunday; 6:12 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Jan. 5, Monday; 6:48 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Jan. 6, Tuesday; 7:23 p.m., -0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Jan. 7, Wednesday; 7:57 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

“Of course weather always plays a factor, but in recent weeks many diggers have harvested their limits and picked up good-sized clams of 4 to 5 inches,” Ayres said.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Looking ahead, WDFW will announce the final word on a dig tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 17 after marine toxin tests have been completed. Below is the proposed razor clam dig, along with evening low tides and beaches:

Jan. 17, Saturday; 4:15 p.m., 0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Jan. 18, Sunday; 5:02 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Jan. 19, Monday; 5:47 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Jan. 20, Tuesday; 6:30 p.m., -1.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Jan. 21, Wednesday; 7:13 p.m., -1.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Jan. 22, Thursday; 7:56 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Jan. 23, Friday; 8:40 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Jan. 24, Saturday; 9:25 p.m., 0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis

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Pete Heley Outdoors 12 / 24 / 2014

It’s getting to the very end of the Chinook salmon fishing along the southern Oregon coast. That said, guide Andy Martin of moc.oohaynull@gnihsifsrevirdliw took a family salmon fishing last week where they fished four different rivers in four days – and they hooked salmon on all of them. The rivers fished were the Elk, Sixes and Chetco in southern Oregon and the Smith River in northern California.

As those Chinook fisheries wind down, the winter steelhead fishing will improve over the next several weeks. Closer to home, Tenmile Creek has been producing winter steelhead for the last few weeks – and it seldom muddies up. Ringo’s Lakeside Marina (541-759-3312) would be a good place for fishing info as they are currently sponsoring a season-long steelhead contest on Tenmile Creek.

A point to keep in mind when fishing for steelhead on Tenmile Creek is that due to a very active STEP program, almost every finclipped and keepable steelhead will leave Tenmile Creek and ascend Eel Creek. Eel Creek will not open for finclipped steelhead until Jan. 1st, but the recent heavy rains should ensure that there are fair numbers of steelhead in the creek when it does open. The heavy rainfall should also reduce the number of coho salmon in the creek. Coho salmon are not legal to keep in Eel Creek, but usually account for a substantial portion of the fish caught in early January – and there are a few anglers that cannot seem to tell the difference between a dark, unkeepable coho salmon and  legal finclipped winter steelhead.

The coho salmon fisheries on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes will remain open through December, but almost all the salmon currently in the lakes and available to be caught are dark.

There are some nice-sized trout available to be caught in the larger area lakes that have oulets that reach the ocean. There won’t be many anglers trying for them and the anglers stillfishing with bait will usually outfish those trolling at this time of year.

The overlooked fishery worth some time and effort is for jumbo yellow perch, which will be in pre-spawn mode for the next couple of months. The fishing may be rather slow, but some of the fattest and heaviest perch of the year will be caught.

As for bottomfish, lingcod should gradually be moving into more shallow water and becoming more available to jetty anglers. Anglers need to be aware that cabezon will be legal (one fish daily at least 16-inches in length) only through December.

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WDFW Seeks Public’s Help

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking the public’s help in testing waterfowl and other wild birds for a type of avian influenza that has killed tens of thousands of chickens and domestic turkeys in British Columbia and has recently been detected in wild birds in Washington. An infected domestic guinea fowl has also been confirmed in Oregon.

Although the virus poses no apparent threat to human health, highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza can be deadly to domestic poultry and, rarely, wild birds.

State wildlife managers ask that anyone who sees a wild bird that is sick or dead call WDFW at 1-800-606-8768. They are particularly interested in waterfowl and birds such as eagles, hawks, falcons, ravens, and gulls that prey on them or scavenge their carcasses.

In addition, field staff from WDFW and two federal agencies will ask hunters’ permission to collect samples from birds they have harvested to test for the disease in several counties. Those efforts will be focused in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Clark counties.

“The sampling procedure takes less than a minute per bird, and will help us determine the prevalence of the disease in wild birds,” said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl section manager. “Waterfowl are carriers of the disease, but often don’t show symptoms. The primary risk is to domestic chickens and turkeys.”

Kraege noted that WDFW tested more than 10,000 wild birds for bird flu viruses from 2005 to 2011, and found bird flu viruses in about 10 percent of all birds tested. None, however, were associated with any illnesses or mortality.

WDFW is part the state’s multi-agency response to highly pathogenic H5 bird flu that also includes the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) the Washington Department of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Wildlife Health Center, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Canadian inspectors first confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of avian influenza at two British Columbia poultry farms during the first week of December. Aware of that finding, WDFW had two birds – a gyrfalcon and northern pintail duck – found dead in Whatcom County tested for bird flu the following week.

The gyrfalcon, used for hunting and fed wild duck by its owner, was found to have a highly pathogenic H5N8 form of the virus. Another duck found dead at Wiser Lake was infected with H5N2, similar to the strain found in poultry in British Columbia.

On Dec. 18, the USDA confirmed the presence of the H5N8 virus in guinea fowl and chickens in a backyard poultry flock in Winston, Oregon.

State and federal agriculture officials strongly recommend that poultry producers prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Migratory waterbirds (ducks, geese, shorebirds) are now migrating southward from Alaska along the Pacific Flyway, making domestic birds especially susceptible to contracting the disease.

WDSA asks that anyone who spots sick or dead domestic poultry report their observations at 1-800-606-3056.

While it is extremely unlikely that hunters or people feeding wild birds could contract bird flu from wild birds, the following common-sense precautions are always recommended to reduce the risk of contracting any wildlife disease:

Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
Wear rubber gloves while cleaning game or cleaning bird feeders.
Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.
Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after handling game or cleaning bird feeders.
Wash tools and work surfaces used to clean game birds with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10 percent solution of chlorine bleach.
Separate raw meat, and anything it touches, from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.
Cook game birds thoroughly. Meat should reach an internal temperature of 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.
For more information about avian influenza, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/avian_flu/ .

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Sport Clam And Oyster Season Delayed At Fort Flagler State Park

Action: The sport clam and oyster fishing season will open on May 15, 2015, until further notice.

Effective date: Fort Flagler State Park: May 15 until further notice.

Species affected: All clams and oysters.

Location: Fort Flagler State Park. This beach is located in Jefferson County near Port Townsend.

Reason for action: Surveys indicate that the clam population on this beach decreased, and the state share of clams was overharvested in 2014, requiring a shorter season in 2015.

Information contact: Camille Speck, WDFW Port Townsend Field Office, (360) 302-3030, ext. 313.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

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WDFW News – Clam Season Delayed At Frye Cove County Park

Action: The sport clam fishing season in Frye Cove County Park will open May 1, 2015.

Effective date: May 1, 2015 until further notice.

Species affected: All clams.

Location: Frye Cove County Park in Thurston County.

Reason for action: Surveys indicate that the clam population on this beach has decreased, requiring a shorter season.

Information contact: Camille Speck, WDFW Port Townsend Field Office, (360) 302-3030, ext. 313.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-543

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WDFW News – Clam Season Opens Early At Dosewallips State Park

Action: The sport clam fishing season will open on Jan. 1, 2015.

Effective date: Dosewallips State Park: Jan.1, 2015 until further notice.

Species affected: All clams.

Location: Dosewallips State Park. This beach is located in Jefferson County on Hood Canal.

Reason for action: Surveys indicate that the clam population on this beach has greatly increased and can support a year-round season in 2015.

Information contact: Camille Speck, WDFW Port Townsend Field Office, (360) 302-3030, ext. 313.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

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With The Salmon Season Winding Down On The Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast

The salmon fishery in the small to medium-sized streams is reaching its season’s end – but before it did, there did, there were lots of salmon caught, including some genuine hogs. All photos courtesy of Andy Martin of wildriversfishing.com.

A group from southern California hired guide Andy Martin to fish them on four different rivers in four days (the Elk, Sixes and Chetco in southern Oregon and northern California's Smith River. Pictured are Ryav Vernand and his son Jordan with two nice fall Chinook salmon taken from the Sixes River on Dec. 16th.

A group from southern California hired guide Andy Martin to fish them on four different rivers in four days (the Elk, Sixes and Chetco in southern Oregon and northern California’s Smith River. Pictured are Ryav Vernand and his son Jordan with two nice fall Chinook salmon taken from the Sixes River on Dec. 16th.

photo 2

Three generations of the Vernand family, grandfather Doug, dad Ryan and Jordan, pose with a nice late season king from the Smith. The fish were caught on roe cured with Pautzke’s BorxOFire or MagLip 4.5 plugs.

Three generations of the Vernand family, grandfather Doug, dad Ryan and Jordan, pose with a nice late season king from the Smith. The fish were caught on roe cured with Pautzke’s BorxOFire or MagLip 4.5 plugs.

 

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ODFW To Set Winter Sturgeon Season On Bonneville Pool

The Bonneville Pool and adjacent tributaries of the Columbia River will be open to the retention of white sturgeon 7-days-a-week from Jan. 1 through March 1, 2015, unless the harvest guideline is reached sooner. The Bonneville Pool extends from the Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam.

Under the split season management structure adopted today, Oregon and Washington fishery managers also anticipate the pool will re-open to a summer retention season starting in June 2015, assuming fish remain available on the harvest guideline.

Managers estimate 40 percent of the 1,100 fish harvest guideline for the pool will be caught during the winter retention period, leaving opportunity for a June re-opening.  However, winter catch rates can be highly variable and anglers should be alert to the possibility of early closure.

The daily bag limit is one sturgeon between 38 and 54-inches fork length, and the annual limit is two.

Retention sturgeon fisheries also will open as planned in The Dalles and John Day pools on Jan. 1, 2015. Those fisheries will continue 7-days-a-week until harvest guidelines are achieved (see ODFW website). The daily bag limit in these areas is one sturgeon between 43 and 54-inches fork length, and the annual limit is two.

Anglers fishing the Bonneville Pool in January may see tribal fishers deploying gill nets in designated areas to collect and tag white sturgeon as part on an on-going sturgeon research program. Among other scientific uses, this work is used to calculate the size and status of the sturgeon population in these reservoirs.

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