Monthly Archives: February 2017

WDFW News – Investigation Of Gull Deaths Near Port Of Tacoma Continues.

The cause of gull deaths near the Port of Tacoma last month likely poses no risk to human health according to preliminary lab results, but more tests are underway to determine the source of the die-off.

“Based on what we know so far, water pollution or contamination is highly unlikely and there is little or no risk to human health,” said Dr. Katie Haman, a veterinarian for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), which is investigating the incident.

Port of Tacoma workers first reported Jan. 22 that at least 30 gulls were found dead or dying in and around Commencement Bay. The birds were all glaucous-winged gulls or glaucous-winged/western gull hybrids, some of the most common gulls on the West Coast.

At least a dozen more dead gulls were reported by the public through Feb. 5, and 31 sick gulls showing signs of weakness and/or paralysis were taken to state-licensed wildlife rehabilitation centers.

No additional sick or dead birds have been reported in the area since then.

WDFW biologists collected six of the dead gulls and sent them to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) at Washington State University in Pullman for testing. Another nine gull carcasses were sent to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisconsin.

Haman reported initial lab results showed inflammation of the intestine and liver, but bacteria could not be cultured from those lesions, making it difficult to determine the cause. Initial lab work ruled out avian influenza virus and avian cholera, and standard screening at wildlife rehabilitation centers ruled out lead poisoning.

WDFW wildlife biologist Emily Butler noted that crows, waterfowl and other birds in the area were not affected – only the two species of gulls initially identified in the die-off – so water pollution or contamination is highly unlikely.

Marine algal toxins are also an unlikely cause because no other affected animals were found, but testing for them is underway at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lab.

Haman said additional lab tests are also looking for botulism toxin, even though the gulls’ symptoms don’t perfectly match what would be expected from such toxicity. Given the scavenging nature of gulls, they may have been exposed to the bacterial toxin from contaminated food sources.

Testing is also underway for heavy metals and viruses.

All final lab results are expected later this month.

Twenty-five of the 31 sick gulls were taken to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood. Other gulls went to Puget Sound WildCare, Fair Isle Animal Clinic, and West Sound Wildlife Shelter. At last report, 20 of the gulls were still alive and showing signs of moderate improvement with supportive care.

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WDFW News – Spring Chinook Must Be released On The Lewis River.

Action: Lewis River anglers must release all spring chinook.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Effective date: March 1, 2017, until further notice.

Location: Lewis River from the mouth upstream to Merwin Dam.

Reason for action: The pre-season forecast is for a return of 700 adult spring chinook to the Lewis River in 2017 compared to a hatchery escapement goal of approximately 1,350 fish. The closure is necessary to provide the hatchery with as many returning fish as possible to minimize the shortfall.

Other information: Lewis River spring chinook returns will be closely monitored and adjustments to these regulations may be made if information shows more spring chinook returning than expected.

Lewis River will remain open to fishing for hatchery steelhead, except Johnson Creek upstream to Merwin Dam will be closed to all fishing May 1-May 31. Under permanent rules, fishing for hatchery steelhead and other gamefish will re-open from Johnson Creek upstream beginning June 1or earlier if in-season information shows the hatchery will meet its spring chinook escapement goal.

Information contact: (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 15 / 2017

The crabbing closure from Coos Bay’s North Jetty to Heceta Head was lifted Feb. 10th – so, once again the entire Oregon coast is open to recreational and commercial crabbing. For how long, one can only guess.

Also on Feb. 10th, following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced that it will extend the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery northward to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.
The commercial rock crab fishery is now open from 38° 18′ N. Lat. (Bodega Bay, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border. Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Bodega Bay shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September. The most recent test results showed that domoic acid in rock crabs from Bodega Bay and Point Reyes had fallen below the alert level of 30 ppm in their viscera.

It seems that our governor is urging ODFW commission members to rethink their vote to allow gill nets to remain in the Columbia River. Perhaps it was the potential loss of millions of dollars in federal aid that Oregon put at risk when it chose to break with the state of Washington in how to manage the 309 miles of the Columbia River Oregon shares with Washington. If Gov. Brown is unhappy with that vote, perhaps she have put more thought into her recent commissionappointments. The Commission will take up this issue at either their scheduled March 17 meeting or at a special meeting before April 4. The huge Columbia River, always difficult to manage properly, will be even more difficult until Oregon and Washington get on the same page.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15th, the Christmas trees collected by the Oregon Coast Anglers and stored at Les Schwab’s will be hauled to Elkton here 14 students will be picked up to assist in placing the trees in Fitzpatrick and Sawyer creeks for habitat enhancement for salmonid smolts. Some larger trees have already been anchored in these streams to make placement of the Chrismas trees easier and more effective. Two ODFW biologists assisted with the project.

On Saturday, Feb. 25th, the annual Expo put on by the Lower Umpqua Flycasters will take place between 9 am and 3 pm at the Reedsport Community Center. Admission is free and 26 fly tiers are expected to reveal their expertise to public scrutiny.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land acquisition that will add 95 acres to the Coquille Valley Wildlife Area in Coos County during their meeting in Tigard on Feb. 11th. The wildlife area provides wetland habitat for wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The Nature Conservancy is providing funds to acquire the property.

Stanley Paalksnis, an Onalaska, Wisconsin resident, is looking at losing his fishing privileges for 12 years and fines of $24,683 along with having his fishing boat seized for illegally poaching more than 2,500 panfish. The sentencing is to occur in the near future.
Mr. Paalksnis, aged 74 had his boat and home recently searched by Wisconsin DNR in November 2015 and the wardens seized over 2,500 panfish. The mixed bag included bluegills, crappies and perch putting the man well over the possession limits for each type. Paalksnis also confessed to the illegal sale of fish in Chicago, where he was selling bags for 5 dollars over a 20 year period.
Paalksnis’s biggest mistake was not practicing his unsportsmanlike fishing in the Pacific Northwest on the Columbia River where Washington and Oregon have recently removed all limits on spiny ray fish species.

Florence-area lakes being planted with trout this week include Alder Lake (850 legals); Cleawox (2,000 legals); Dune Lake (500 legals) and Munsel Lake (500 12-inchers). All these lakes received substantial trout plants last week.

Newport-area fishing spots were also planted this week with Olalla Reservoir getting 4,000 legal and 200 15-inch trout and Big Creek Reservoir #1 getting 2,000 legals and Big Creek Reservoir #2 getting 4,000 legals and 100 15-inchers. The north Oregon coast will not receive anymore trout plants until mid-March, but some Coos County and Douglas County waters will begin receiving trout plants in late February.

Yellow perch are in their immediate pre-spawn stage and water temperatures in most of our local lakes are now in the 45 to 50 degree range that usually signals the start of spawning season.

Bassfishing should become productive with slightly warmer weather. Some serious local anglers wait for water temperatures to reach 51 to 55 degrees and that usually occurs earliest on north or west shorelines. Three good early season bass lakes are Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes.

Tenmile will host the annual “Frostbite Open” on Saturday, Feb. 25th. The weigh-in will be held at Osprey Point RV Resort after 3 pm. The tournament should be close to its 75 boat limit and the success of these early-season bass experts makes the weigh-in worth watching.

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Mega Poaching Wisconsin Style

Stanley Paalksnis, an Onalaska resident, is looking at losing his fishing privileges for 12 years and fines of $24,683 along with having his fishing boat seized for illegally poaching more than 2,500 panfish. The sentencing is to occur in the near future.

Mr. Paalksnis, aged 74 had his boat and home recently searched by Wisconsin DNR in November 2015 and the wardens seized over 2,500 panfish. The mixed bag included bluegills, crappies and perch putting the man well over the possession limits for each type. Paalksnis also confessed to the illegal sale of fish in Chicago, where he was selling bags for 5 dollars over a 20 year period.

Paalksnis’s biggest mistake was not practicing his unsportsmanlike fishing in the Pacific Northwest on the Columbia River where Washington and Oregon have recently removed all limits on spiny ray fish species.

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Commission adds to Coquille Valley Wildlife Area.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land acquisition that will add 95 acres to the Coquille Valley Wildlife Area in Coos County during their meeting in Tigard today.

The wildlife area provides wetland habitat for wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities. The Nature Conservancy is providing funds to acquire the property.

Also today, the Commission modified some rules for Columbia River System tribal fisheries to ensure consistency between state and tribal fishing regulations.

Commissioners also adopted a resolution in support of the national Blue Ribbon Panel funding recommendations. Congress will be considering legislation dedicating existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to states for wildlife conservation efforts.

Commissioners were briefed about the 2015-16 Access and Habitat Program Biennium Report and lower Columbia River sturgeon population status. ODFW staff characterized the status of the white sturgeon population as “mixed,” citing increasing abundance of larger fish as positive indicators and reduced numbers of smaller fish as “cautionary signs.” Recreational and commercial harvest of sturgeon has been closed since 2014 downstream of Bonneville Dam, Willamette Falls, and along both coastlines. Recreational sturgeon fishing trips have dropped by over 80 percent since sturgeon retention was closed on the lower river, although catch-and-release sturgeon fishing remains open. Commissioners received a request from several members of the public to look into the possibility of reopening a limited retention season.

In other business, yesterday the Commission received a letter from Governor Kate Brown, asking them to reconsider their Columbia River fisheries reform decision from last month. The Commission will take up this issue at either their scheduled March 17 meeting or at a special meeting before April 4.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife. The next meeting is March 17 in Corvallis.

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Recreational And Commercial Crabbing Restrictions Lifted From Coos Bay North Jetty To Heceta Head.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have announced the reopening of recreational crabbing and lifting of commercial crabbing restrictions from the north Jetty of Coos Bay to Heceta Head, north of Florence. Dungeness crab viscera samples taken from the area indicate levels of the marine toxin domoic acid have dropped and remain below the alert level. Crab harvesting was closed or restricted in that portion of the central coast last week.

With the reopening and lifting of restrictions, all harvesting of crab is open along the entire Oregon Coast.

ODA and ODFW will continue monitoring marine toxins in crab and shellfish to ensure that the concentrations remain below the alert level.

Despite the recent closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants are safe for consumers.

It is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking, which includes removal and discard of the internal organs and gills.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/FoodSafety/Shellfish/Pages/ShellfishClosures.aspx For notices to the commercial crabbing industry visit ODFW commercial crabbing webpage at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/commercial/crab/news_publications.asp

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CDFW News – Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Now Extends to Bodega Bay.

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will extend the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery northward to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.

On Feb. 10 the commercial rock crab fishery is open from 38° 18′ N. Lat. (Bodega Bay, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.
At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended to CDFW to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million (ppm) in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Bodega Bay.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Bodega Bay shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September. The most recent test results showed that domoic acid in rock crabs from Bodega Bay and Point Reyes had fallen below the alert level of 30 ppm in their viscera.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 08 / 2017

The biggest thing this week regarding outdoor recreation in our area is that recreational crabbing is, once again, closed along part of the Oregon coast. The reason is the same as for previous closures – elevated levels of domoic acid and it now seems that such an emergency closure could happen at any time along a certain section of the Oregon coast – or for that matter along the California or Washington coasts, as well.

This closure affects the recreational crabbing from the North Jetty of Coos Bay northward to Heceta Head, about 14 miles north of Florence and the lower tidal portions of both the Umpqua and Siuslaw rivers. Portions of the Oregon coast still open to recreational crabbing include Coos Bay and the oregon coast southward to the California border and the coast from Heceta Head northward to the Washington border. As of Feb.9th, commercial crabbing closed to match the recreational crabbing closure.

Most of the yellow perch in our local waters will be spawning in the next five weeks. They usually start spawning when the water temperatures at their preferred depth reaches 45 to 50 degrees fahrenheit and is usually slightly deeper than the depth the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate. This can be only a few feet in a murky lake, but may be 20 feet deep or even more in an exceptionally clear body of water such as Woahink Lake.

As soon as the Coquille River reaches a reasonable clarity, striped bass should start biting and in the early spring most of them will be upstream of Myrtle Point. Stripers should also start biting on the Smith River when it clears and most of these fish will be in the lower four miles of the North Fork Smith or in the mainstem Smith from where the North Fork enters upstream to the falls. The Smith has less stripers numbers-wise, than does the Coquille, but a larger proportion of adult stripers.

Two weeks ago, the South Fork Coquille was producing excellent fishing for winter steelhead while the Smith was very hot or very cold for winter steelhead. February is usually the best month to fish for steelhead on Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek.

This week several lakes along the central Oregon coast received their first trout plants this year. These lakes were Cleawox (3,636 trout); Munsel (1,650 trout); Alder (1,022 trout; Dune (886 trout); Carter (750 trout); Lost (500 trout) and Siltcoos Lagoon (460 trout). Alder and Dune should offer consistently good trout fishing as they will each be stocked three separate times in the next six weeks – nearly 5,000 trout in two small lakes with a total surface acreage of five acres.

Loon Lake will receive its first trout plant this year at the end of February (2,000 trout) and Lake Marie will receive its first trout plant of the year in mid-March (1,500 trout). Coos County will receive its first trout plants of the year at the end of February when both Empire lakes receive 2,000 trout and Powers Pond, Johnson Mill Pond, Bradley Lake and Saunders Lake will each receive 3,000 trout.

Surfperch anglers are catching fish when conditions allow them to actually fish. The same can be said for jetty anglers.

Anglers wanting to get an early start on smallmouth bass should look for dead end backwaters – especially those with their upper ends farther upriver than where they enter the Umpqua. Don’t be put off by murky water, it warms up more quickly than does clear water.

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CDFW News – Anglers Can Retain Canary Rockfish in 2017.

Starting in 2017, anglers will be allowed to retain canary rockfish for the first time in more than a decade. Canary rockfish was declared overfished in 2000, but the population rebuilt to healthy levels quicker than anticipated based on a combination of conservation efforts and restrictive management.

“We are pleased to offer new opportunities based on the improved stock status of canary rockfish.” said Marci Yaremko, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) state/federal fisheries program manager. “Sweeping changes were made to help rebuild the stock – prohibiting retention, shortening fishing seasons, closing deep-water fishing areas and encouraging widespread use of descending devices to improve survival for released fish. These sacrifices are finally paying off.”

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the state’s recreational groundfish fishing regulations in December, including allowing retention of canary rockfish. The new regulations are effective as of Feb. 7.

The open season dates and allowable fishing depths for each of the recreational Groundfish Management areas are as follows:

Northern – Open May 1 through Oct. 31 in 30 fathoms (180 feet) or less; Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restriction
Mendocino – Open May 1 through Oct. 31 in 20 fathoms (120 feet) or less; Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restriction
San Francisco – Open April 15 through Dec. 31 in 40 fathoms (240 feet) or less
Central – Open April 1 through Dec. 31 in 50 fathoms (300 feet) or less
Southern – Open March 1 through Dec. 31 in 60 fathoms (360 feet) or less
The 20 fathom depth restriction is described by the general depth contour. The 30, 40, 50 and 60 fathom depth contours are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints as adopted in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 660, Subpart G).

New statewide changes include:

A new sub-bag limit of one canary rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling (RCG) Complex bag limit
A decrease in the sub-bag limit of black rockfish from five to three within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit
Elimination of the sub-bag limit of bocaccio within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit
A decrease in the lingcod bag limit from three to two fish
Allowance of petrale sole and starry flounder to be retained year round at all depths
Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide.

For more detailed information about recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or check CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish Central website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish .

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ODFW News – New Crab Closure In Oregon.

As of Feb. 1, Recreational crabbing is closed along the Oregon coast from the North Jetty at Coos Bay northward to Heceta Head north of Florence, The reason for the closure is elevated levels of domoic acid in tested crabs. The recreational crabbing closure may portend a commercial closure, but recreational crabbing is currently allowed in Coos Bay and areas southward to the California border and areas north of Heceta Head to the Washington border.

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