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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: December 2015
The Northern Duck and Goose Flights have reached Central Washington. Groups of Mallards, numbering 30 have been reported throughout our area. The Potholes Recreation Area is prime for waterfowl enthusiast. Most wing shooters are avid bird watchers and they don’t even realize it. I enjoy bird watching (especially now that the northerns have arrived), The Marsh unit area on Crab Creek, just below O’Sullivan Dam. This vantage may be enjoyed by stopping at the several pull-overs on the Soda Lake Rd. Hutchinson and Shriner Lake area hold big numbers of Canadian Honkers, and also the cantilever viewing platform overlooking Royal Lake. These locations are located on the Columbia Wildlife Refuge.
If we didn’t have these sanctuaries, hunters would not witness the fine waterfowl hunting that we enjoy every year in the Potholes Recreation area. Many other Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managed refuges and quality hunting areas provide safe refuge for the many northern flights.
Watching waterfowl inside the Moses Lake city limits can be remarkable near the Alder street area. A favorite of mine is having lunch at Michael’s on The Lake, bird watching between 2:00 pm and dark. I love sitting by the window with that view.
Walleye fishers continue to report limits primarily using blade baits. The Lind Coulee Arm of Potholes Reservoir, Medicare Beach and especially ‘jigging’ the face of the sand dunes. Corral Lake has been producing rainbow to 20” for bank fisherman.
The fishing regulation booklets for 2016 are now out – and they are looking good. The booklets are printed on slick paper and typset so that they are much easier to read. I anticipate less confusion regarding Oregon’s fishing regulations in the years ahead, but in the meantime there are a lot of changes that start next year, so I would suggest getting your free copy of the booklet and reading it carefully.
One thing you will notice in the fees portion of the booklet is that licenses and tags have increased substatially, but that the fees for youngsters have stayed the same, or decreased. For example, while the youth sports pac has stayed at $55.00, the ages it covers is now 12 to 17 years instead of the previous 14 to 17 years. The youth fishing license increased from nine dollars to ten dollars, but now includes hunting and shellfish licenses in addition to the fishing license and also includes the Columbia River Basin Endorsement fee. The combined angling tag for kids up to and including 17 years of age dropped from the previous eight dollars and fifty cents to five dollars.
But at the same time that they are dropping fishing fees for kids, they are increasing them substantially for resident adults and seniors. The fishing license for a resident adult increased from $33.00 to $38.00 (a 16 percent increase and a resident senior fishing license increased from $15.00 to $25.00 (a 67 percent increase. The combined angling tag increased from $26.50 to $35.00 (a 32 percent increase). I can understand Oregon wanting more youngsters to enjoy its outdoor recreation, but discouraging adults and seniors from doing the same seems somewhat counterproductive.
At least Oregon got a little more reasonable regarding their nonresident fishing licenses. While the daily licenses did increase, the nonresident yearly fishing license dropped nine percent to $97.50 from the $106.25 it cost last year. However, the popular seven day nonresident fishing license and combined angling tag now costs 28 percent more, at $76.50, than the $59.75 it cost last year.
There will be a new license available in 2016 that is a one day fishing and shellfish license. At $27.50, it seems a bit steep, but in 2016 a one day fishing license will cost $19.00, so $8.50 for a one day shellfish license seems slightly more fair.
A lot of people are going to gripe about having to pay six dollars per year for their pioneer combination hunting/fishing licenses which were previously free. Since a combination hunting/fishing license now costs $65.00 and a senior combination license for those age seventy years or older costs $41.50, the pioneer license is a tremendous value – and I have never felt like I deserved something extra for living in Oregon the required fifty years. In other words, I’ll be happy to pay my six dollars per year – especially knowing that the change allows the ODFW to recoup an average of $20 per paid license holder in federal grants. These federal grants are generated from an excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment and are provided to states based on the number of licenses actually sold and not the number of licenses issued. These grant monies are important because they help fund fish and wildlife management projects that provide increased fishing and hunting opportunities.
I’m seeing a surprising number of bass boats that are headed to Tenmile Lakes and some of them are probably actually fishing for coho salmon, but last year the bassfishing at Tenmile didn’t slow down much during the winter months. Some anglers are hedging their bets by using spinnerbaits which seem to account for a number of incidentally hooked cohos each year. This year, it seems like jack salmon are making up a larger portion of the coho catch than normal.
Yellow perch are currently the best fishery at Tenmile Lakes and as they get closer to spawning, anglers fishing water over hard or gravelly bottoms are having good success. Good electronics, sufficient to reveal bottom composition, can be a tremendous advantage for for boat anglers seeking larger perch.
The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season along the Oregon coast continues to be delayed due to concerns about domoic acids levels in the southern half of the state. While recent testing showed domoic acid in crabs in all areas to be below levels that normally trigger action, the overall trend indicates domoic acid in the southern half of the state has increased over the past two weeks and are near the action level.
Based on these results and consultations with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry, and Washington and California Departments of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is continuing the delay of the ocean commercial Dungeness crab season along the entire Oregon coast.
“Oregon’s commercial crab industry and the Department place a high priority on making sure that seafood consumers can be confident that they are buying a safe, high‐quality, and sustainable product when they purchase Oregon Dungeness crab,” said Kelly Corbett, ODFW commercial crab project leader.
ODFW will continue to work closely with ODA and the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry to test crab in the southern half of the state. In close coordination with ODA, fishery managers from Washington and California and the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry, ODFW plans to evaluate options for opening the commercial season once additional domoic acid test results are available.
Despite the delay, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers, Corbett said.
All recreational harvest of Dungeness crab in Oregon’s bays and ocean is currently closed south of Heceta Head due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Recreational harvest of crab in bays and ocean north of Heceta Head remains open. The opening of the recreational crab harvest in the ocean off Oregon south of Heceta Head will be decided pending additional domoic acid test.
Domoic acid or amnesic shellfish toxin can cause minor to severe illness and even death. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death. Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. For more information on toxin closures, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448‐2474 or visit the
ODA shellfish closures web page.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is again delaying the commercial Dungeness crab fishery on a small section of Washington’s southern coast.
The decision was made in coordination with shellfish managers from Oregon and California, where commercial Dungeness fisheries also remain closed.
Although test results in crab from Washington’s southern coast show the crab are safe to eat, results from California and sections of Oregon indicate elevated levels of domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae.
Washington shellfish managers agreed to extend the delay of the southern coast fishery to avoid the chaos that opening such a small area would create, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.
Typically, Washington, Oregon and California coordinate commercial Dungeness fishery openings to prevent too many crabbers from concentrating in small areas and ensure smoothly-run fisheries.
“If open, this 13-mile stretch of Washington’s south coast would be the only area in Washington, Oregon or California open to non-tribal commercial crabbing,” Ayres said. “We’re worried it would draw too many crabbers to the area and potentially be over-fished.”
Washington’s commercial fishery includes the area from the Columbia River north to Klipsan Beach on the Long Beach Peninsula and the waters inside Willapa Bay.
WDFW previously delayed the fishery’s Dec. 1 opening to conduct additional testing on crabs for domoic acid, which has plagued shellfish fisheries this year along the West Coast. Extensive testing on southern coast crab continues to show that domoic acid levels are below the health-safety threshold set by state public health officials.
Later this month, shellfish managers from all three states again will discuss an opening date for commercial Dungeness crab fisheries.
However, WDFW plans to open the area north of Klipsan Beach to state commercial crabbing on Jan. 4, in coordination with tribal co-managers. Crab coming into the market from tribal fisheries currently open along the central and northern Washington coast have been tested and are safe, Ayres said.
Recreational crabbing is open in all of Washington’s coastal waters and in Puget Sound, where marine toxins in crab have not been a problem.
Domoic acid can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy the toxin in shellfish.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new rules for wildlife rehabilitators today at its meeting in Portland.
The new rules provide species-specific guidance for reporting, handling and rehabilitating common mammals like black bears, deer and elk. They also add language to make state rules consistent with federal guidelines for federally-listed or endangered species and prohibit certain types of wildlife from importation into Oregon for rehabilitation. Oregon has about 35 licensed rehabilitators who help care for and eventually return sick, injured or orphaned wildlife to the wild.
In other business, the Commission:
Adopted administrative rules for HB 3315, which requires ODFW to track and prepare reports that show the number of hours spent providing services to other state agencies as these agencies implement their own fee-funded programs.
Amended Division 435 rules for wildlife control operators, private businesses that respond to wildlife damage and wildlife-human conflicts. The new rules require all employees doing wildlife control activities to pass a WCO test, charge a fee of $25 for the test and a $60 biannual permit fee, extend permit validation period from one to two years, and reduce live-trap check times from 72 to 48 hours.
Approved funding for 10 project proposals and one modified project recommended by the Restoration and Enhancement Board. Projects include replacing the Thief Valley Reservoir Boat Ramp, which has been damaged by ice, with a more weather-resistant boat ramp. All projects are designed to restore or enhance fisheries in Oregon.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state and it usually meets monthly. Its next meetings are Jan. 15 in Salem and Feb. 12 in Tigard.
State shellfish managers today reopened the recreational crab fishery inside Willapa Bay, after test results showed the crab are again safe to eat.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced the opening after a month-long closure prompted by elevated levels of domoic acid.
Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.
Levels of domoic acid in Willapa Bay crabs have declined over this past month, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW. Recent tests by the Washington Department of Health show toxin levels in Willapa Bay crab are well below health-safety standards.
Commercial crabbing in Willapa Bay remains closed. Shellfish managers from Washington, Oregon and California will meet next week to determine when to open commercial Dungeness crab fisheries, including those on Washington’s southern coast.
Those fisheries were delayed from the scheduled Dec. 1 opening to allow more time for marine toxin testing.
Regular testing of shellfish species found in Willapa Bay – including oysters, hard-shell clams and mussels – shows those shellfish remain safe to eat.
WDFW continues to test for domoic acid in razor clams along Washington’s coastal beaches, where digging has been closed this fall. Domoic acid tends to remain in the fat cells of razor clams longer than other shellfish species. The department will make an announcement once toxin levels drop to safe levels and digging can begin.
The public is invited to comment on a new plan designed to align state fisheries and hatchery operations to support the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead populations in the lower Columbia River Basin.
The Lower Columbia Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries Plan, jointly produced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board (LCFRB), is available for review at www.lcfrb.gen.wa.us
Comments on the plan will be accepted through Jan. 22 via email at su.aw.neg.brfclnull@ofni or postal mail: LCFRB, 2127 8th Ave, Longview, WA 98632.
The new management plan is based on the statewide Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2009. It also reflects the findings of the Hatchery and Scientific Review Group (HSRG), established by Congress in 2000 to guide state reform efforts.
Management strategies outlined in the plan include those put into action since 2009 and others proposed for the future, said Cindy Le Fleur, WDFW fish manager for southwest Washington.
“The goal of this plan is to return natural-origin salmon and steelhead populations to healthy, harvestable levels in the Columbia River Basin,” Le Fleur said. “We’ve already taken significant steps toward that goal, and we want to hear what people have to say about past and proposed actions.”
Current initiatives range from increasing the use of wild fish for hatchery broodstock to suspending production of hatchery steelhead on rivers designated as “wild steelhead gene banks.”
These and other actions described in the plan are designed to minimize risks to wild salmon and steelhead populations posed by hatchery fish and hatchery operations. Known hazards include interbreeding, disease, and competition for spawning areas, as well as hatchery structures that block the movement of wild fish upstream.
NOAA-Fisheries has frequently cited these risks as a contributing factor in listing wild salmon and steelhead populations for protection the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Jeff Breckel, director of the LCFRB, said the new hatchery and fishery reform plan for the Columbia River Basin is consistent with the goals of the recovery plan for the region approved by NOAA-Fisheries. The board was created by the state Legislature to lead a collaborative effort to recover salmon and steelhead in Southwest Washington.
“Our organization is pleased to be a partner in developing this plan,” Breckel said. “It represents a big step forward in efforts to recover threatened salmon and steelhead, while continuing to provide hatchery fish for harvest.”
Under the adaptive management approach described in the plan, all initiatives will be assessed based on how fish populations respond to those changes. Key actions taken to date include:
Incorporating wild fish into the hatchery broodstock for chinook, coho and steelhead production.
Designating three rivers as wild steelhead gene banks by discontinuing hatchery releases in the East Fork Lewis and North Fork Toutle/Green rivers, as well as continuing the strategy of not releasing hatchery steelhead on the Wind River.
Installing weirs to control the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds on the Grays, Elochoman, Green, Coweeman, Cowlitz, Kalama, and Washougal rivers.
Testing the use of purse seines and beach seines to selectively harvest hatchery salmon in designated areas of the lower Columbia River.
Expanding mark-selective recreational fisheries, and requiring anglers to retain any hatchery steelhead they catch in some waters.
The Lower Columbia Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries Plan is also available for review on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01767/
Two new wheelchair accessible jetties on Whetstone Pond expand use of this popular fishing and bird watching area.
Whetstone Pond provides a break from urban life in the heart of the Rogue Valley. The 10-acre pond sits in Denman Wildlife Area and is accessed at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office on East Gregory Road in Central Point.
“The pond is a high use area with most people sticking to the paved trail and platform to fish and watch wildlife. That asphalt was degrading and became a safety concern for visitors,” said Clayton Barber, Wildlife Area Manager.
Both jetties are 50 feet long and paved with curbing for wheelchair accessibility. Railings will be installed this winter on the tips of each jetty to provide added safety for those in wheelchairs. Local angler David Flemming, who is now wheelchair bound, appreciates having a local pond to fish that accommodates his needs.
“We’re glad we could partner with ODFW to make the outdoors accessible to everyone,” said Garry Penning of Dry Creek Landfill. “Our facility has a long history of partnering with ODFW to enhance wildlife habitat and now we are happy to support this project which enables the handicapped to access and enjoy Whetstone Pond.”
Whetstone Pond is a warmwater fishery for bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. It’s also a great place to watch wildlife, including several Conservation Strategy Species – Western Pond Turtles, Acorn Woodpeckers, Bald eagles, and the occasional American White Pelican. Two osprey sites are frequently used and visitors like watching osprey pluck fish from the pond.
The project was a collaboration between ODFW and several partners. LNS Rock Products and Dry Creek Landfill donated rock; a Restoration and Enhancement Program grant funded asphalt and curbing; permitting costs were covered by the Wildlife Area Parking Fee Program; and ODFW provided in-kind labor to help build the jetties.
According to an article by Mike Suchan, Paul Bailey caught the largest spotted bass ever on Sunday, but it might be the one that got away.
Bailey, 35, a pro angler from Kelseyville, Calif., realizes there are circumstances that might not allow it to be certified as the IGFA all tackle world record.
He landed the 11-pound, 4-ounce spot in a northern California reservoir while fishing with longtime friend Matt Newman, who owns iRod, and Shea McIntee, who hosts a TV fishing show.
Knowing Bailey’s fish would eclipse the IGFA world record of 10.95 pounds set last February by Lou Ferrante, they immediately contacted state game and wildlife officials.
“Fish and Game didn’t really want to deal with it at all,” Newman said. “It was the middle of nowhere, a Sunday afternoon, holiday weekend. We got a hold of them, and they didn’t even have any advice of what we should do, except maybe call IGFA.”
The men’s offer to meet the official was denied, and since transporting live fish in California is illegal, it led to a dilemma. They wanted to try for the record but didn’t want to kill the fish, so they documented it as well as they could and released it.
“We discussed it and we had a lot of witnesses,” Newman said. “There were a good 10 people who saw it and there were three scales (showing 11-7, 11-5, and 11-4). We’re going to send all to the IGFA and see what they say. We won’t be crushed if it didn’t happen, but we’re realistic about it as well.”
On Monday, Bailey submitted all the paperwork to the International Game Fish Association. There is an IGFA Record Application form to complete before a lengthy vetting process by the keeper of fish records in Dania, Fla. The IGFA requires certified scales, but there have been cases when the scale was approved afterward.
“We still have to go through the process,” Bailey said. “We have a lot of evidence, a lot of proof. It might not be exactly what they’re asking for, but we’re going to do our best.”
The anglers had high hopes before they began their day fishing, filming a discussion that they planned to get Newman a personal best spotted bass and possibly break the world record in the process.
Paul Bailey and Matt Newman pose with their big fish caught just minutes apart from the same spot.
The frosty morn started inauspiciously with a couple “rats.” Newman, 44, was the first to land a lunker, and he celebrated the 8-pounder as a personal best.
“While he’s doing his dance, I kind of snuck up front and made the same cast, same spot, same everything and I got that 11-4 out of there,” Bailey said. “After we got done celebrating that, Matt got a 6 1/2. It was a cut between two points and they were in there.”
As he reeled it in, Bailey’s fish jumped twice and they knew it was large, most certainly over 10 pounds. When Newman grabbed it at the side of the boat, he looked back at Bailey and told him he had a world record.
“The look in his eyes told me I had a legitimate world record,” Bailey said. “He called it before he even pulled it into the boat. I could see it in his eyes. He kind of held her in the water for a moment so I couldn’t see her, like a friend would do, then pulled her out and was like, ‘You have a world record.’ It was kind of cool.”
Newman screamed and danced in sheer excitement while Bailey said he remained almost frozen in shock. It was all filmed for an episode of McIntee’s “Stoked on Fishing,” and will air in February on FoxSports West and StokedonFishing.com.
“If Shea didn’t come up here to film the show, we would have never gone over there and this would have never happened,” Bailey said.
The three are protective of the small reservoir, believing if the exact location was released the fishery would be harmed by an overzealous invading army of anglers.
“People are guessing left and right, but we’re never going to confirm it,” Bailey said. “There’s such a big population of big fish in there and with how many people bass fish in California, and it would really hurt the fish.”
The rod and lure have Bassmaster Elite Series connections. Fred Roumbanis, who is on the iRod pro-staff along with Bailey, was stoked his signature Power Finesse 712S Spinning Rod was used on the record fish. Both big fish were enticed by 1/2-ounce Picasso Shakedown Shaky heads with 6-inch Roboworm Fat Straightail Worms in Martens Madness.
Bailey might certainly benefit this winter as his business, Big Bait Bailey Guide Service, is offering spotted bass outings. He said if the record doesn’t come with this fish, he believes it will come from another in northern California very soon. But he still can’t fathom it happened to him, even as it was happening.
“I was kind of in disbelief,” he said. “I was thinking to myself, ‘No way, there’s no way. This didn’t just happen.’ People try to do this for a long, long time, and I couldn’t believe it.”
The new 2016 Sport Fishing and Big Game Regulations will also be in stores this week. Hunters and anglers will notice a new look to the regulations this year. “We’ve heard from sportsmen that the regulations can be confusing,” said Rick Hargrave, ODFW Information and Education Administrator. “We’ve made an effort to simplify them and hope they are easier to understand.”
The effort included contracting with a different publisher, J.F. Griffin, to produce the regulations. A new searchable web version of the regulations will be available next week at ODFW’s regulations webpages. In the meantime, PDF copies of 2016 regulations are posted at the hunting and fishing regulations web page.
Prices for adult licenses and tags increase for 2016 (see 2016 Recreational Fee List), the first fee increase since 2010. However, ODFW will continue to charge lower prices for youth to keep fishing and hunting affordable for families. The popular Juvenile Sports Pac is still just $55 in 2016 and prices will be lower than in 2015 for some youth sportsmen. A new combination youth license means all kids age 12-17 (non-residents, too) can fish, hunt, crab and clam all year long for just $10. This license includes the Columbia River Endorsement; add a Youth Combined Angling Tag for just $5. (Previously, costs for youth were: hunting license $14.50, fishing license $9 or $18.75 with Columbia River Endorsement for ages 14-17, combined angling tag $8.50 for ages 14-17, shellfish license $7 for ages 14 and over.)
New license types are also available, including Premium Hunts. These are Oregon’s new two or three month any-weapon deer, elk and pronghorn hunts. Premium Hunts are similar to the auction and raffle tags people pay thousands for, but they cost the same as a regular tag and are an additional hunting opportunity (meaning hunters can still draw a 100, 200, 400 and 600 series tag). Most wildlife management units have one deer and one elk tag available; 29 areas also have a pronghorn tag.
Also new this year, the Daily Angling and Shellfish License is ideal for visitors to the coast who want to fish, crab and clam for just one day. Cost is $27.50 for residents and non-residents.
Pioneer license holders (age 65 and older, 50-year resident of Oregon) will now pay $6 for a combination license, which was previously free. The change allows ODFW to recoup an average of $20 per paid license holder in federal grants. These federal grants are generated from an excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment and are provided to states based on the number of paid license holders. These grants are important because they help fund fish and wildlife management projects that provide fishing and hunting opportunities.
All 2016 licenses and tags can now be purchased online and at license sales agents and ODFW offices that sell licenses.
To give a license or tag as a gift, you will need the hunter or angler’s full name and date of birth (day, month, year). If the person has had a license before, make sure you have their ODFW hunter/angler ID number which is found at the top of their license and stays the same every year. If you are purchasing a license for someone who has never had a license, you will have to provide his or her social security number in compliance with Federal and State laws.