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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: December 2017
ODFW is calling a time-out on abalone season, postponing the 2018 recreational season that was set to open on Jan. 1 until further review and Commission consideration in March.
The decision follows California’s closure of its 2018 abalone season due to concerns over the health of the population. Abalone stocks in California have fallen below target levels as abalone face ongoing environmental conditions that have reduced their food sources. Since California Fish and Wildlife closed their season on Dec. 7, ODFW has seen a dramatic spike in inquiries about the Oregon fishery, which is dwarfed by the California fishery. (Oregon issues about 300 abalone permits per year, while California issues 25,000 or more.)
Southern Oregon is on the northern edge of red abalone range and the state’s fishery is managed conservatively to protect the health of Oregon’s relatively small population. “California’s closure could lead to a large fishing effort shift to Oregon, which would cause a spike in harvest under the current rules. Yet we suspect that Oregon’s abalone population has declined from historic levels,” says Scott Groth, ODFW shellfish biologist for the south coast. “This emergency action postpones the fishery so we can hold off on issuing 2018 abalone permits until we’ve had a chance to do a more thorough review of the situation.”
ODFW staff plan to evaluate the fishery (including potential impacts from California’s closure), solicit public input, and present suggestions, including possible rule changes, to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their March 16 meeting in Salem.
Annual regulations require recreational abalone harvesters to purchase an Oregon shellfish license and obtain a free annual abalone/scallop permit from ODFW. ODFW will continue to issue permits for scallops after Jan. 1.
Abalone are highly prized and the fishery creates a high demand, primarily among divers. While seven species exist on the West Coast, five of these have some listing status under the Endangered Species Act. Red abalone are the only species still fished in the contiguous United States, and southern Oregon and northern California are the only areas where recreational harvest has occurred in recent years. Commercial harvest is not allowed in either state.
The current water level is 1041.65 feet on the Potholes Reservoir. The water temperature on the main lake is right hovering around freezing degrees. The main lake is open with minor ice around the edges. The sand dunes are 95% frozen.
Fishing: Not many folks out fishing. The few that are out there are picking up walleye. Fish the deeper humps off the dunes and the humps just Northwest of Goose Island. Blade Baits are the top producing bait. The face of the dam is still producing walleye on swimbaits and Blade Baits. Fish 20-30 feet of water next to the dam.
Hunting: The duck hunting been a bit tough this week. We need a weather change to bring in the birds and get them moving, according to Shelby Ross of Ross Outdoor Adventures. Goose hunting in the fields has been good over the past week.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest hunting and fishing info at 509-346-2651
WDFW News – Anglers Limited to 1 Adult Salmon Daily, Must Release Wild Coho in Willapa Bay, Tributaries Starting Jan. 1.
Action: Reduces the daily limit to one adult salmon only and requires anglers to release all wild (unmarked) coho salmon beginning Jan. 1, 2018, in Marine Area 2-1 and all Willapa Bay rivers and tributaries.
Effective dates: Jan. 1, 2018, until further notice.
Species affected: Salmon.
Location: Marine Area 2-1 (Willapa Bay), Bear River, Fork Creek, Naselle River and all forks, Nemah River and all forks, Niawiakum River, North River, Palix River, Smith Creek, Willapa River, and South Fork Willapa River.
Reason for action: WDFW has downgraded the forecast for returning wild and hatchery coho in Willapa Bay. Coho returns to the Willapa Bay area are not expected to meet conservation goals. These actions are needed to increase the number of fish available for broodstock to help ensure future returns.
Other information: Anglers fishing in Willapa Bay, its rivers and tributaries may keep only one adult salmon daily and must release all wild coho. All other regulations listed in the 2017-18 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet remain in effect.
WDFW will continue to monitor the progress of coho for remainder of the run in Willapa Bay.
Clam diggers can make plans for a two-day razor clam dig on Washington’s coastal beaches over the New Year’s holiday.
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.
“New Year’s razor clam digs are very popular,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We’re pleased that this year’s low tides allow us to offer digging during this holiday time. There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than to get out and enjoy digging a fresh meal of razor clams.”
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.
Upcoming digs are scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:
Dec. 31, Sunday, 5:12 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Jan. 1, Monday, 6:02 p.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
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.
All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 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.
Additional digs are tentatively scheduled later in January and in February, but have not yet been approved. For more information, see the WDFW razor clam webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html
Washington’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open in coastal waters Jan. 15 after a six-week delay, state shellfish managers announced today.
Fishery managers for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the opening in coordination with fishery managers from Oregon and California.
Washington’s commercial fishery opening includes the waters from the mouth of the Columbia River north to Klipsan Beach, including Willapa Bay. Crabbers can set their pots in this area on Jan. 12. The area north of Klipsan Beach will open later in coordination with tribal co-managers.
WDFW delayed the fishery opening, initially scheduled Dec. 1, to allow more time for crabs to fill with meat and to coordinate coastal openings with Oregon and California. Fishery managers estimate crab will have adequate meat in their shells by Jan. 15 to proceed with the opening.
Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW, noted that the latest test results indicate Washington coastal crabs are safe to eat, remaining well below the public health action level for domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae.
The Washington non-tribal commercial crab fishery was valued at $52 million during the 2016-17 season.
Recreational crabbing remains open in all of Washington’s coastal waters. Information about the sport fishery can be found on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/
CDFW News – Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Delayed Again Due to Quality Testing.
The Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced a final 15-day delay for the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. Crab condition improved from the last round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 19. However, crab had not reached the minimum meat recovery criteria as established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee testing protocol.
The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Jan. 15, 2018, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2018. This is the last delay the Director can issue due to Dungeness crab quality testing.
No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).
The director’s memo can be found here.
The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.
Testing results for domoic acid are posted by the California Department of Public Health.
For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.
For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit
Since I cannot come up with any physical product that I dearly want for a Christmas present, I came up with some occurences that, if they happen, will make me very happy and I definitely will not feel shortchanged giftwise. While I realize that many of these “wishes”make too much sense to ever come to pass, I can hope. Here’s my list:
(1) – The new bottomfish regulations and limits will be closely adhered to and will allow the season to run the entire year without emergency adjustments or closures.
(2) – The parking areas and boat ramps on many waters, that have early closures due to vandalism, will have their open hours extended past dusk to benefit bass and crappie anglers – such waters include Ben Irving, Galesville and Olalla reservoirs – and many others.
(3) – Any future boat ramp docks be constructed with both boat owners and boatless anglers in mind – and only enforce the fishing restrictions on current such docks when boats are actually using the ramp or dock.
(4) – The ODFW resume recordkeeping responsibilities for the state’s record fish. Although the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club has done a decent job of recordkeeping, their interest in different fish species is not consistent across the board. There is no valid reason why Oregon does not keep state records for marine or estuary fish species or northern pike minnows or carp for that matter. It’s als a shame that Oregon doesn’t keep track of black, brown and yellow bullheads – instead choosing to lump them all together for recordkeeping purposes.
(5) – Coming up with an effective way to reduce and deal with Oregon’s seal and sea lion problem – it seems that there ought to be a way to reduce their fertility – and their population.
(6) – Ditto for cormorants. I can tolerate, while resenting, fish predation by mink, otters, herons and ospreys because fish can adjust their behavior to somewhat reduce such predation.
(7) – Reopen Soda Springs Reservoir to fishing. The reservoir is presumably closed to protect salmon and steelhead fry hatched in the North Umpqua River above the reservoir – while at the same time protecting the brown and rainbow trout that will undoubtedly be eating them.
(8) – Reopen Mill Creek to fishing – or at least the portion inaccessible to salmon and steelhead. It seems somewhat inconsistent to remove all limits on bass in the Umpqua River while protecting the bass in one of the Umpqua’s largest tributaries.
(9) – A rainfall pattern that ensures that the many shallow sand dunes lakes and ponds have sufficient water levels to avoid fall fish kills, yet not have so much water that the fish are scattered and hard to locate.
(10) – Tiger trout and tiger muskies become legal to keep – on a very limited basis.
Whale Watching Week starts December 27th. Although the “official” whale watching site is located in Depoe Bay, it isn’t the best Oregon location to actually view migrating whales. There are better whale-viewing sites in our local area including Shore Acres Park (just south of Charleston), Cape Perpetua (north of Florence) and Face Rock (just south of Bandon).
But many people consider the very best spot to view migrating gray whales along the entire Oregon coast is from the viewing area overlooking the mouth of the Umpqua River in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Winchester Bay.
While the upcoming “Whale Watching Week” is also referred to as “Winter Whale Watching Week”, there is also a “Spring Whale Watching Week” which begins on March 24th.
Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.
Gary Wolfer reported that he took advantage of calm ocean conditions to crab the ocean. Gary and two friends ended up with a boat limit (36) of crabs and most of them were well over the 5 3/4-inch minimum legal size. The most productive area was a couple miles north of Winchester Bay off Sparrow Park Road in 35 feet of water.
ASacramento County man entered a no contest plea Tuesday to charges of poaching a huge blacktail deer in Sacramento County. John Frederick Kautz, 51, of Lodi, was charged with possession of an illegally poached deer and falsification of deer tag reporting information, both misdemeanors, following a three-month investigation.
Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.
Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.
Kautz illegally killed the trophy-sized buck on private property in Wilton in December 2016, two months after the deer season closed in the area. The deer had an antler spread of 31 inches with four antler points on one side and five on the other, which is an unusually large size for this part of California.
Kautz transported the illegally killed deer across state lines to Nevada to have the deer head mounted by a taxidermist. Kautz was also working through the process of scoring the trophy class buck to have it entered into the Safari Club International hunting record book. The deer’s trophy-sized antlers would have been surely accepted if the animal had been legally taken. However, the poaching conviction for the buck makes it ineligible for that recognition.
Working on a tip provided in September 2017, Wildlife Officers Sean Pirtle and Anthony Marrone spent an exhaustive three months on the investigation, collecting evidence that would prove the year-old incident was an act of poaching. Through extensive interviews, multiple search warrants and forensic analysis of computer records, and with the help of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Computer Crimes Unit, they slowly pieced together the puzzle. Then, collaborating with Nevada game wardens who conducted multiple follow-up interviews outside of California, they worked together in an attempt to track down the actual deer that had been mounted by the Nevada taxidermist.
All California wildlife officers are federally deputized to investigate fish and wildlife crimes anywhere in the United States. The wildlife officers submitted the case to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
On Dec. 19, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney David Brown announced a plea bargain resulting in a conviction of two poaching related misdemeanors. Kautz was sentenced to two days in county jail, placed on three years probation with a search and seizure clause, ordered to surrender the mounted deer head and was prohibited by the court from hunting or accompanying anyone else who is hunting during his probation. The fine was set at $5,000 pursuant to a new legislation and regulation package which took effect on July 1, 2017, increasing penalties associated with poaching “trophy class” or very large wild game animals.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open on most of Oregon’s coast on Jan. 15, 2018. Dungeness crab will be ready to be harvested from Cape Blanco to the Columbia River, and north into Washington.
While the commercial season can open as early as Dec. 1, the opening can be delayed to ensure a high quality product for consumers by allowing crabs more time to fill with meat.
Prior to the opener, crab vessels may set gear from Jan. 12 onwards, using the “pre-soak” period of time to set gear in anticipation of the first pull of ocean crab pots on Jan. 15.
The recreational crab fishery in Oregon is already open in this same region (Cape Blanco north to the Columbia River). The area south of Cape Blanco will remain closed to both recreational and commercial crabbing due to persisting domoic acid in the region. Continued testing will determine when this closed area can reopen.
All Oregon crab product on the market is safe to eat.
Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery. Last year’s season opening was also delayed but still brought in the record high ex-vessel value of $62.7 million, with 20.4 million pounds landed (about 22 percent above the 10-year average).
For more information about Oregon’s shellfish marine biotoxin monitoring, 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.