Monthly Archives: September 2015

Free Festival Celebrates Columbia River Sturgeon

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The Columbia River ecosystem and its primitive inhabitant, the sturgeon, will be honored here Saturday, Sept. 19, at the 19th Annual Sturgeon Festival.

The free, one-day festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way in Vancouver. The festival is hosted by the City of Vancouver in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

While sturgeon have top billing, the popular festival features a variety of entertaining and educational activities for all ages. Special events include the Birds of Prey Show, a live reptile display, and Eartha the Ecological Clown along with her personable cockatoo.

WDFW will also dissect a sturgeon, giving festivalgoers a close-up view of the species’ anatomy. Prevalent in the Columbia River, the sturgeon is a primitive fish that has not changed substantially since it emerged millions of years ago.

Sturgeon are a long-lived species, reaching 5 to 6 feet in length by the age of maturity. A few sturgeon in the Columbia River have been verified to be over 80 years old.

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Wild Coho Retention To End Off Neah Bay

Anglers fishing off Neah Bay must release wild coho salmon beginning Friday, Sept. 11, state fishery managers announced today.

The new rule will limit the coho catch in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) to hatchery fish marked by a missing adipose fin.

The change in coho retention does not apply to marine areas 1-3, where anglers can continue to keep both wild and hatchery coho, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“The coho catch rate out of Neah Bay last week was higher than we anticipated,” Milward said. “We’re making this change now to help us meet our conservation objectives for wild salmon.”

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in all four marine areas.

Anglers have a two-salmon daily catch limit in all four marine areas off the Washington coast. Up to two chinook may be retained in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and Marine Area 2 (Westport); anglers fishing off La Push (Marine Area 3) and west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line off Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) can keep one chinook as well as two additional pink salmon as part of their daily catch limit.

For additional details on fishing regulations, check the fishing regulations pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season, and announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/.

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WDFW Assesses Damage To Wildlife Areas As Record Chelan Fire Continues To Burn

For the second straight year, state wildlife managers are scrambling to assess the damage caused by a massive fire on four state wildlife areas in northcentral Washington.

Since mid-August, this year’s record-setting Okanogan Complex fire has burned more than 300,000 acres, destroyed more than 100 homes, and killed three firefighters. Now 70 percent contained, it is one of several major wildfires still burning in the region.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) currently estimates that flames have scorched more than 25,000 acres of wildlife lands maintained by the department for wildlife and outdoor recreation in Okanogan and Chelan counties.

That exceeds the amount of state wildlife land burned by last year’s Carlton Complex fire by about 1,000 acres, said Jim Brown, WDFW regional director for northcentral Washington.

“Several wildlife areas are completely burned over,” Brown said. “The vegetation that supports deer, sharp-tailed grouse and other wildlife is gone. I’d call it deja vu, except that this year’s fire took a different path and has aggravated the problems we’ve been working to address since last year.”

This year’s damage to WDFW lands was concentrated in nine units of the Scotch Creek, Methow, Chelan and Sinlahekin wildlife areas, Brown said. In some areas, trained department staff worked alongside regular firefighters to control the blaze.

Those four wildlife areas support thousands of deer, many of which will seek food outside the areas scorched by wildfires, said Matt Monda, WDFW regional wildlife manager. Like last year, the department plans to work with landowners to protect their crops from deer displaced by the fire, he said.

“We know we need to take additional steps to align the herds with available habitat,” Monda said. “That effort will involve allowing the habitat to recover and minimizing conflicts between deer and agricultural landowners.”

Hunting seasons for archers are now under way, and WDFW may draw from its existing list of special-hunt applicants to increase the number of modern-firearms permit hunts in October, Monda said.

Brown encourages hunters to take advantage of those hunting opportunities, but recommends that they check local access restrictions before they leave home. Key contact numbers are included on the Governor’s website at http://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/washington-wildfire-resources

In the months ahead, the department will consider setting up localized deer-feeding stations and other measures to protect agriculture crops on a case-by-case basis, Brown said.

“There are a lot of good reasons not to feed wildlife, but we’ll assess each situation on its merits once we have a better idea of the environmental conditions in fall and winter,” he said.

In the meantime, the department will continue to update its damage assessment as a first step toward qualifying for federal disaster relief. Besides burning thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, the fire has destroyed 90 miles of WDFW boundary fencing, several outbuildings, and hundreds of informational signs.

Also damaged were two of the three pastures in Okanogan County that WDFW leased to livestock producers displaced by last year’s fires.

“We want to help our neighbors whenever we can, but I don’t know whether we’ll have any grazing areas available this year,” Brown said.

Looking ahead to the fall rains, Brown recommends that area landowners promptly assess their own properties to determine whether fire damage has clogged culverts, destabilized slopes, or created other dangerous situations. If so, landowners may qualify for an emergency permit – called a Hydraulic Permit Approval (HPA) – to address risks in or around state waters.

Landowners in northcentral Washington seeking more information on emergency HPAs can contact WDFW at (509) 754-4624.

“These record-breaking fires will have a major impact on both the wildlife and the human residents of northcentral Washington for years to come,” Brown said. “The vegetation will eventually grow back and the wildlife will return, but we all need a break from these massive fires.”

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American River Hatchery Suffers Fish Die-off.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working to keep hundreds of thousands of trout alive at the American River Hatchery after warm water temperatures killed approximately 155,000 trout Tuesday.

A chiller that cools water at the hatchery about 18 miles east of Sacramento unexpectedly failed Tuesday, and warm temperatures killed most of the Eagle Lake species of trout being raised at the hatchery. Failure of the hatchery equipment may be related to work by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the hatchery, but the exact cause is not clear and is under investigation. Hatchery staff is working to get a least one chiller working again, which could drop the water temperature – now approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit – by five degrees, enough to help sustain the remaining trout in the hatchery.

Additional losses are expected because of stress to the fish and continuing elevated water temperatures.

Loss estimates as of Sept. 9, by species:

155,000 of the 199,313 (78%) of Eagle Lake trout
300 of the 61,839 (0.5%) of Shasta trout
Five of the 230,000 Lahontan cutthroat trout
Though this fish kill means that CDFW likely will not be able to stock streams and lakes at an ideal level in the Sacramento region next year, all trout at the American River Hatchery were not lost. CDFW will seek ways to supplement the trout produced at its hatcheries to increase angling opportunities next year.

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ODFW Fishing Regulation Changes For 2016 Troubling

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the 2016 Oregon sport fishing regulations at its meeting in Seaside today.

Under the regulations adopted today, anglers should find it easier to navigate the rules for trout and warmwater fishing, thanks to fewer special regulations creating different seasons, gear restrictions and bag limits for different waters. These changes are the result of an almost year-long effort by ODFW staff to streamline and simplify the fishing rules. Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager, told the Commission that overly complex regulations is one of the most common complaints among anglers.

Some of the changes for 2016 include:
· Eliminating of the April trout opener – most of these waters will now be open year-round.
· Setting the May trout opener at May 22 each year, ensuring that trout fishing statewide would always be open Memorial Day weekend.
· Removing the bag limit on non-native brown and brook trout in streams statewide, though some exceptions will still apply.
· Simplifying language, including replacing the terms “adipose fin-clipped” and “non adipose fin-clipped” with “hatchery” and “wild.”
· Removing bag limits for warmwater fish in the Columbia, John Day and Umpqua rivers.

In addition to the regulation changes, there also will be a new format for the regulations booklet that will make it easier to read. The 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations will be available in early December 2015.

The Commission approved the 10-year update of the Oregon Conservation Strategy (Strategy), including the Oregon Nearshore Strategy component. These documents are broad, overarching strategies for voluntary conservation of Oregon’s native fish, wildlife and marine resources. Both documents were updated with new scientific technology and information, and had extensive technical and public review and input over the last year.

Along with updating the Strategy Species and Habitat sections, refining Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA) was a major focus of the Strategy revision. These areas are key landscapes where voluntary conservation actions will have the most impact on conserving native species.

The Nearshore component was better incorporated into the Strategy resulting in several changes. Species lists and habitats were modified and estuaries were included in the Nearshore Strategy. The revision also will include supplements on potential effects of global climate change and ocean acidification.

The Oregon Conservation Strategy including the Nearshore component will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Oct. 1 and available in a new web application upon USFWS approval.

The Commission also updated the rules for commercial bay clam harvest. The current commercial harvest rules had been in place since 1995. The new rules are based on recent fisheries landings and stock assessment data, and include adjustments to commercial landing quotas, minimum sizes, species taken, and allowable harvest areas. This integrated package of shellfish actions will improve the management of these species and reduce potential conflicts between different user groups.

Finally, the Commission approved funding for three Access and Habitat projects that will provide hunter access.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state and it usually meets monthly.

HERE’S MY TAKE ON THE REMOVAL OF SIZE AND NUMBER LIMITS ON NON-NATIVE FISH POPULATIONS!

At best, it’s a slippery slope. Species such as brook and brown trout have existed in Oregon for about 130 years – far longer than the families of those most determined to get rid of them. It wasn’t all that many decades ago that anglers were rewarded for catching and killing bull trout – now Oregon’s most protected fish species and both Oregon and Washington are currently paying anglers to catch and kill, the very much native, northern pikeminnow.

Idaho tried increasing the numerical limits on smallmouth bass, but found that most bass anglers are strictly catch and release fishermen. Should Idaho rule out catch and release fishing for any fish species, they will undoubtedly discover that anglers are losing almost all their fish at boatside. And should Idaho adopt even more draconian measures regarding certain fish populations they risk angering anglers that fish for those fish to the point of inspiring them to undertake guerilla-type countermeasures that are to scary to list here.

As for the removal of bag limits for warmwater fish on the Columbia, the ODFW pretty much had to do it, since Washington is doing it and the states try to ensure their regulations match each other. But Oregon could have done a better job regarding the John Day and Umpqua rivers.

These rivers have very high numbers of smaller smallmouth bass, which most anglers will still throw back. Very quickly, these rivers will have reduced populations of larger smallmouths resulting in less fishing pressure and less predation on the smaller bass by larger bass.

When virtually every Oregon lake is open to year-round fishing, does anyone want to bet that each year’s initial fishing tackle sales won’t be occurring in mid-April?

 

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Pete Heley Outdoors 9 / 09 / 2015

Although my column deadline didn’t allow me to report on the STEP salmon derby in its entirety, the heaviest salmon through Sunday weighed less than 30 pounds. Ron Lewis topped Saturday catches with a 28.4 pound Chinook. A coho salmon of about ten pounds led the coho side pot through Sunday, but a massive 18 pound coho was caught  on Friday, the day before the derby started. Over all, derby participation was down this year and since the derby is a major fundraiser for our local STEPchapter, any financial assistance would be greatly appreciated as they continue to make Winchester Bay salmon fishing something special.

The nonselective ocean coho season opened September 4th with only fair fishing and many of the cohos taken were small to the point of barely meeting the 16-inch length requirement for legal ocean cohos.

With slightly cooler water temperatures, Chinool salmon have moved upriver above Reedsport with fair numbers of fish starting to hold below Sawyers Rapids. In the last few weeks there has been some fishing success on the Umpqua near the Elk Viewing Area.

This coming Tuesday, September 15th, the nonselective coho fishery for  11 basins on Oregon’s coast will be open for wild coho harvest including Tillamook Bay , Nestucca Bay, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Beaver Creek, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos, Coquille and Floras Creek/New River. In addition, Tenmile, Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes will have wild coho seasons.

Fishery managers are predicting there will be 206,600 adult wild coho in the ocean this summer, most of which will return to Oregon’s coastal rivers and streams.  This is slightly below last year’s predicted return, and significantly lower than the 2014 actual return of 359,624 fish.

“Unlike recent years, this year’s projections are not as consistent up and down the coast, resulting in shorter seasons on some rivers, while others are very similar to last year,” said Mike Gray, ODFW fish biologist in Charleston.

On the North Coast, there will be shortened seasons in the Tillamook and Nestucca basins and, due to poorer forecasted status, the Nehalem will not open for wild coho at all (though it remains open for hatchery coho).

“Our North Coast seasons are more conservative this year than 2013-2014, but we still have opportunity for harvest,” said Chris Knutsen, ODFW fish biologist in Tillamook.

Seasons on the Alsea and Siuslaw also will be shortened compared to 2014, while the Umpqua will join many other basins that have been moved away from specific harvest quotas. Instead biologists are implementing a fixed season length.

While 2015 is the seventh year in a row that Oregon’s coastal rivers will open to the harvest of wild coho, fishery managers are sounding a cautionary note for the near future.

“We’re coming off some very robust years for wild coho, but based on what we’re seeing with ocean conditions, anglers should begin preparing for smaller wild coho returns and reduced harvest opportunities in upcoming years,” according to Chris Kern, ODFW fish division deputy administrator.

Siltcoos Lake and the Umpqua River above Milepost eight continue to fish very well for yellow perch and smallmouth bass respectively and the salmon bite in Coos Bay is much improved – just in time for the annual Coos Basin STEP salmon derby.

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Oregon Fish And Wildlife Commission Sets Fishing Regulations For 2016

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the 2016 Oregon sport fishing regulations at its meeting in Seaside today.

Under the regulations adopted today, anglers should find it easier to navigate the rules for trout and warmwater fishing, thanks to fewer special regulations creating different seasons, gear restrictions and bag limits for different waters. These changes are the result of an almost year-long effort by ODFW staff to streamline and simplify the fishing rules. Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager, told the Commission that overly complex regulations is one of the most common complaints among anglers.

Some of the changes for 2016 include:

Eliminating of the April trout opener – most of these waters will now be open year-round.
Setting the May trout opener at May 22 each year, ensuring that trout fishing statewide would always be open Memorial Day weekend.
Removing the bag limit on non-native brown and brook trout in streams statewide, though some exceptions will still apply.
Simplifying language, including replacing the terms “adipose fin-clipped” and “non adipose fin-clipped” with “hatchery” and “wild.”
Removing bag limits for warmwater fish in the Columbia, John Day and Umpqua rivers.
In addition to the regulation changes, there also will be a new format for the regulations booklet that will make it easier to read. The 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations will be available in early December 2015.

The Commission approved the 10-year update of the Oregon Conservation Strategy (Strategy), including the Oregon Nearshore Strategy component. These documents are broad, overarching strategies for voluntary conservation of Oregon’s native fish, wildlife and marine resources. Both documents were updated with new scientific technology and information, and had extensive technical and public review and input over the last year.

Along with updating the Strategy Species and Habitat sections, refining Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA) was a major focus of the Strategy revision. These areas are key landscapes where voluntary conservation actions will have the most impact on conserving native species.

The Nearshore component was better incorporated into the Strategy resulting in several changes. Species lists and habitats were modified and estuaries were included in the Nearshore Strategy. The revision also will include supplements on potential effects of global climate change and ocean acidification.

The Oregon Conservation Strategy including the Nearshore component will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Oct. 1 and available in a new web application upon USFWS approval.

The Commission also updated the rules for commercial bay clam harvest. The current commercial harvest rules had been in place since 1995. The new rules are based on recent fisheries landings and stock assessment data, and include adjustments to commercial landing quotas, minimum sizes, species taken, and allowable harvest areas. This integrated package of shellfish actions will improve the management of these species and reduce potential conflicts between different user groups.

Finally, the Commission approved funding for three Access and Habitat projects that will provide hunter access.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state and it usually meets monthly.

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Coastal Wild Coho Seasons Set To Open September 15th

Wild coho seasons on many coastal rivers and bays will open beginning Sept. 15. This year rivers in 11 basins on Oregon’s coast will be open for wild coho harvest including Tillamook Bay, Nestucca Bay, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Beaver Creek, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos, Coquille and Floras Creek/New River. In addition, Tenmile, Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes will have wild coho seasons.

Fishery managers are predicting there will be 206,600 adult wild coho in the ocean this summer, most of which will return to Oregon’s coastal rivers and streams. This is slightly below last year’s predicted return, and significantly lower than the 2014 actual return of 359,624 fish.

“Unlike recent years, this year’s projections are not as consistent up and down the coast, resulting in shorter seasons on some rivers, while others are very similar to last year,” said Mike Gray, ODFW fish biologist in Charleston.

On the North Coast, there will be shortened seasons in the Tillamook and Nestucca basins and, due to poorer forecasted status, the Nehalem will not open for wild coho at all (though it remains open for hatchery coho).

“Our North Coast seasons are more conservative this year than 2013-2014, but we still have opportunity for harvest,” said Chris Knutsen, ODFW fish biologist in Tillamook.

Seasons on the Alsea and Siuslaw also will be shortened compared to 2014, while the Umpqua will join many other basins that have been moved away from specific harvest quotas. Instead biologists are implementing a fixed season length.

River-specific seasons, quotas, bag limits and closed areas can be found on the ODFW website.

While 2015 is the seventh year in a row that Oregon’s coastal rivers will open to the harvest of wild coho, fishery managers are sounding a cautionary note for the near future.

“We’re coming off some very robust years for wild coho, but based on what we’re seeing with ocean
conditions, anglers should begin preparing for smaller wild coho returns and reduced harvest opportunities in upcoming years,” according to Chris Kern, ODFW fish division deputy administrator.

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ODFW Relaxes Fishing Restrictions On 10 NE Oregon Waters

Effective immediately, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will relax fishing restrictions on 10 water bodies in Northeast Oregon scheduled to be chemically treated this fall to remove unwanted fish species.

The agency plans to treat lakes and ponds in Baker, Union, Umatilla and Wallowa counties to remove unwanted fish in order to improve trout fisheries. Under the new temporary regulations, there are no daily bag or possession limits, no size limits and anglers may harvest fish by hand, dip net and angling.

“By relaxing the rules, we hope to give people the opportunity to harvest these fish before we remove them,” said Kyle Bratcher, ODFW fish biologist in Enterprise.

The new temporary rules will apply to Kinney Lake (Wallowa Co.), Peach, Lugar and Boundary ponds (Union Co.), and Keyhole, Granite Meadows, Goldfish, Yellowjacket and Windy Springs ponds (Umatilla Co). These are in addition to Balm Creek Reservoir, where fishing restrictions have been lifted since July.

The temporary regulations will be in effect until 12:01 a.m., Sept. 26 when these water bodies will close to all fishing during chemical treatment. These fisheries will re-open on Jan. 1, 2016 and will be re-stocked with hatchery trout in the spring.

“The three-month closure gives us some flexibility in scheduling the treatments, and provides ample time for detoxification,” said Tim Bailey, ODFW fish biologist in La Grande.

The closure also is a precautionary measure to keep the public from harvesting fish that survive the rotenone treatment.  “Even though rotenone is not known to be toxic to humans, we take a conservative approach in order to protect the public,” Bailey said.

The agency plans to begin the treatments with Balm Creek Reservoir on Sept. 29, and end with the ponds on the Umatilla National Forest in mid-October.  Further public announcements will be made leading up to these treatments.

The goal of these rotenone treatments is to remove illegally introduced brown bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, black crappie and/or goldfish. According to Bratcher, many of these water bodies have been overpopulated by these illegally introduced fish, which compete with rainbow trout thus reducing fishing opportunities. In many cases these introduced fish have become stunted themselves due to overcrowding.

More important, Bratcher added, these fish can become a source population for other illegal introductions.

“It’s not just about improving the treated fishery; it’s also about protecting nearby fisheries,” he said.

ODFW has successfully treated several other water bodies throughout the state in recent years including Diamond, Mann and South Twin lakes, and a number of small ponds. These fisheries have been greatly improved by removing many of the same species targeted in the Northeast Oregon projects.

“We have demonstrated that rotenone projects can improve trout fishing and increase angler satisfaction in these fisheries,” Bratcher said.

Rotenone is often used to remove undesirable fish species because it is an affordable and effective treatment with little threat of long-term environmental damage. Rotenone has been approved as a fish toxicant by the Environmental Protection Agency. At the concentrations used to kill fish, rotenone is not toxic to humans, other mammals or birds. It breaks down completely in the environment and will not be detectable within weeks of treatment.

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

Walleye catching continues to be amazing for knowledgable walleye fishers. Beginners are also finding a new level of success. Families enjoying the last of their summer are also having wonderful opportunities fishing. We rented one of our pontoon boats last week to a family from Renton, Washington and they anchored at the mouth of Frenchman’s Waste-way for an afternoon of fishing. They were excited to report on their return that each kiddo on the boat landed their own fish. Bass fishing during the month of September is going to be on fire. With our comfortable daytime temperatures and cool morning and evenings it’s a perfect time of year for an early morning/late night fishing trip. For a current fishing report please call (509)346-2651 and ask for the tackle shop.

We were very happy to announce that we planted 45 habitat boxes in Potholes Reservoir on September 2, 2015.

Royal Hunt Club is a great do it yourself hunting option in our area. You may purchase a pass for dove hunting for $100 or purchase the regular pheasant, duck and goose season pass for $300. Our Royal Hunt Club President Sam Worsham has spearheaded a pheasant release program for the Hunt Club this year. 2000 pheasants are being raised in the Royal 4H Center to be released on the Royal Hunt Club land during pheasant season. There is no extra charge for the released pheasants and the release sites are marked on the map. No guides are allowed to participate in the Royal Hunt Club, this is open to the public other than that. For more information please call (509) 346-2651.

 

Upcoming Events at MarDon Resort:

September 5, 2015

Don’t miss our annual Yard Sale Saturday, September 5th from 9am to 1pm. Due to some over purchases this year we are offering an indoor/outdoor yard sale and everything outside is 50% and almost everything inside is 40% off!! Including all tackle!! All sales are final. This is a great opportunity to stock up on some tackle at our cost price! The sale will be located inside the MarDon Store and in the parking lot of the store as well.

September 18-20, 2015

Dock Fishing Tournament and Pie Social

This is a really fun weekend fishing event. The cost is $40 per person and it is a dock fishing tournament that starts Friday evening and does not end until 11am on Sunday. We pay out for 9 different species of fish for the top two weights and end the weekend with an awards ceremony and potluck style meal at noon on Sunday. We do limit this tournament to 200 fishers and we are 25% filled at this date, so if you

Clyde Foster with a beautiful Crappie caught while trolling for Walleye.

Clyde Foster with a beautiful Crappie caught while trolling for Walleye.

Family from Renton Washington enjoyed a day on Potholes Reservoir fishing before school starts

Family from Renton Washington enjoyed a day on Potholes Reservoir fishing before school starts

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