Monthly Archives: January 2018

Commercial Crabbing Update For Southern Oregon Coast.

After consulting with industry advisors, ODFW and ODA are setting a provisional opening structure, pending additional domoic acid test results, for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in the area from Cape Blanco to the OR/CA border.

Additional domoic acid samples were collected January 29th (Monday) from Brookings (Area 50-L) and Port Orford (Area 50-K), with results expected to be available on February 1st (Thursday). If all crab viscera results are below threshold, this will be the second test in a row, which is necessary to open the area without an evisceration order.

IF test results indicate that all crab viscera from those samples are below threshold, an immediate announcement will be made via ODFW’s email and text notification system, and the area will open without any evisceration restrictions as follows:

73 hr presoak begins (setting gear): February 4, 8:00AM

Hold Inspections: February 6, port schedules to be determined

Start date (pulling gear): February 7, 9:00AM

IF test results indicate that domoic acid levels in crab viscera remain elevated, there will NOT be an automatic opening under an evisceration order. In that case, ODFW and ODA will continue to consult with industry regarding the option to open under an evisceration order and will make additional announcements accordingly.

All domoic acid test results and testing schedules are on ODA’s website

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Pete Heley Outdoors 1 / 31 / 2018

As you are reading this, I’m happy to point out that there is now one hour more daylight per day than there was on Dec. 21st of last year. Still not enough, but a reason for optimism.

The commercial crab season is now underway except for the coastal section south of Cape Blanco. A few commercial crabbers along the southern Oregon coast have opted to wait until the closed section reopens – at which time they will get a 30 day headstart on commercial crabbers that are crabbing now.

As for recreational crabbing high muddy water has slowed, but not halted crabbing at Winchester Bay. Crabbing the lower end of Coos Bay near such Charleston-area landmarks as “the cribbs” and “Hungryman Cove” remains fairly productive.

This year’s first trout plants in our area will take place this coming week in the Florence area during the week beginning Feb. 5th – and most trout plants take place in the early part of the week. The lakes being planted include: Alder Lake (850 legals, 100 12-inchers and 36 15-inchers); Buck Lake (36 15-inchers); Carter Lake (750 12-inchers); Cleawx Lake (3,000 legals, 450 12-inchers and 150 15-inchers); Dunes Lake (850 legals and 36 15-inchers); Lost Lake (500 12-inchers); Munsel Lake (1,500 12-inchers and 150 15-inchers); Perkins Lake (36 15-inchers) and Siltcoos Lagoon (425 legals and 35 15-inchers).

Heavy rainfall last week raised and muddied most area streams. Exceptions were Tenmile and Eel creeks which never seem to get muddy and have been fishing well. Streams that were producing well before last weeks rains included the East and West forks of the Millicoma River and the North Fork of the Coquille River.

The hot yellow perch bite at the County Park on South Tenmile Lake less than two weeks ago seems to have disappeared and my theory is that they moved to, or closer to, their actual spawning sites. I really wish I knew where those sites were.

The fair largemouth bass angling at Tenmile Lakes dropped off with the onset of stormy weather, but should bounce back with slightly warmer, more stable weather. Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes should improve as well.

The first Umpqua River spring chinook probably won’t show up for three or four weeks, but in the meantime there is a very much overlooked fishery in the Wells Creek area for small to mediun-sized brown bullhead catfish. The few anglers that take advantage of it use nightcrawlers and usually fish at night. Depending on river levels and water clarity, the Umpqua’s smallmouth bass fishery should be getting close to being worthwhile. The most productive early season spots are backwaters or coves that have their upper ends upriver of their mouths. These backwaters, because of their alignment, receive less inflow from the Umpqua River and can warm quickly on sunny days.

As for bullead catfish, they typically seek the warmest water available and in the wintertime that is usually the deepest water. In deeper lakes there may be low oxygen levels near the bottom and the angler may have more difficulty getting a bait to the bottom. However, Oregon’s three largest coastal lakes are less than 25 feet deep and anglers fishing water around 20 feet deep should enjoy inconsistent, but occassionally very good fishing for bullhead catfish – especially at night. But it’s usually cold and miserable and hardly anybody does it.

Current fishing opportunities for those willing to travel include: Lake Chelan in central Washington for kokanee and mackinaw; Pyramid Lake in western Nevada for giant Lahanton cutthroat trout and the Columbia River for jumbo walleyes. Other options are such popular icefishing spots as Diamond Lake in central Oregon and Phillips Reservoir in eastern Oregon. A closer, quite interesting winter option is Lookout Point Reservoir for landlocked chinook salmon, rainbow trout and walleyes.

The ODFW will place a Halibut Survey on their website Monday afternoon, January 29th. They are looking for public input regarding this year’s Halibut Regulations. If you are concerned about the Halibut seasons, take the survey. ODFW will have a meeting in Newport on Tuesday, January 30th to get public input.

A man from Liberty Lake, Washington, was fined $8,293 in Pend Oreille County District Court yesterday in a plea bargain agreement for killing two wolves in Pend Oreille County in 2016.

Terry Leroy Fowler, 55, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful taking of endangered wildlife, while a third count was dismissed under the agreement. Fowler will pay $8,000 in restitution for the two wolves to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and $293 in court costs. A 364-day jail sentence was suspended, but the 30 days under home electronic monitoring was not.

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.

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WDFW News – Helicopter Crash in Eastern Washington Kills 1, Injures 2 During Deer Research.

A private helicopter flying under contract with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for a mule deer study crashed Saturday, Jan. 27, in Garfield County, killing one member of the crew and injuring two others.

The Washington State Patrol confirmed today that the crash took the life of Benjamin M. Poirier, 19, Berthoud, Colo., a crew member in the helicopter. The pilot, Blake Malo, 33, Clarkston, and the third crew member, Garrett Bradshaw, 30, Eagle Point Ore., were taken from the crash site to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

All three men were employed by Hells Canyon Helicopters, which operated the aircraft.

“This is a tragic accident that will be deeply felt not only by the families but by members of our own staff who have worked with this dedicated crew,” said WDFW Director Jim Unsworth.

Kevin Robinette, regional WDFW wildlife manager, said the accident occurred about 20 miles northwest of Pomeroy, where the helicopter crew was working with ground-based state biologists to capture and attach radio collars to mule deer to study the animals’ movement and survival.

Robinette said Saturday marked the first day of fieldwork in the Blue Mountains, where biologists plan to eventually collar up to 50 deer, said. WDFW staff monitored the operation from the ground and drove a fuel truck to support the flights.

On Saturday afternoon, a WDFW biologist alerted law enforcement officials when a smartphone app tracking the flight showed the aircraft had stopped moving, Robinette said.

The crash is being investigated by state and local law enforcement agencies and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Robinette said the contractor recently completed similar work in the Okanogan region of north-central Washington, where the crew attached collars to about 80 does during several days of flying.

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WDFW News – Wolf Poacher Fined in Pend Oreille County District Court.

A man from Liberty Lake, Washington, was fined $8,293 in Pend Oreille County District Court yesterday in a plea bargain agreement for killing two wolves in Pend Oreille County in 2016.

Terry Leroy Fowler, 55, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful taking of endangered wildlife, while a third count was dismissed under the agreement. Fowler will pay $8,000 in restitution to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and $293 in court costs. A 364-day jail sentence was suspended, but Fowler will be required to spend 30 days under home electronic monitoring.

WDFW Police Capt. Dan Rahn said the department began investigating the case in late February of 2016, while following up on a wolf mortality near the LeClerc Creek Road in Pend Oreille County. Evidence at the scene led WDFW police to property owned by Fowler.

In March 2016, WDFW served search warrants on Fowler’s cabin in Pend Oreille County, and on his residence in Liberty Lake in Spokane County. Rahn said WDFW police found evidence of wolf trapping, wolf hair, tissue, scat, and two skulls.

In December 2016, the department received the results of a DNA analysis of evidence samples confirming they were from three separate wolves.

WDFW referred charges of three counts of unlawful taking of endangered wildlife to the Pend Oreille County Prosecutor’s Office in early 2017. The plea bargain agreement was finalized Thursday after a number of court hearing continuances.

Wolves are listed as endangered throughout Washington by the state and in the western two-thirds of the state under federal law. Washington had at least 115 wolves in 20 known packs, including at least 10 breeding pairs as of March 2017, when WDFW issued its last population estimate. The wolves in this case were within the Goodman Meadows pack range.

The illegal killing of a wolf or other endangered fish or wildlife species is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Two other wolf poaching cases in northeast Washington remain under investigation. One involves the killing of a radio-collared female wolf, once part of the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County, whose carcass was found Dec. 5, 2017, about 15 miles southwest of Republic. The other case involves a dead female wolf found by hunters on Nov. 12, 2017 within the range of the Dirty Shirt pack, about 10 miles southeast of Colville in Stevens County.

Rahn encouraged anyone who might have relevant information about these cases to contact WDFW at 877-933-9847 or 360-902-2936.

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CDFW News – Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure Lifted Near Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands.

Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the commercial spiny lobster fishery closure in state waters around the northeast side of Santa Cruz Island and the south side of Anacapa Island as recommended by state health agencies. According to the notice from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, sampling of spiny lobster and analysis of samples by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) laboratories indicates that consumption of spiny lobster taken from this area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure. The commercial spiny lobster fishery is now open statewide and CDPH lifted the recreational fishery consumption warning for the area.

On Oct. 24, 2017, state health agencies determined that spiny lobster in waters around Anacapa Island, Ventura County and the east end of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery in this area.

For more information, please see:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/25/18)

CDFW Declaration (1/25/18)

CDFW information about Health Advisories and Closures for California Finfish, Shellfish and Crustaceans

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

California Spiny Lobster.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 1 /23 / 2017

It’s getting to be the time of year for Oregon’s fishing and outdoor recreation shows. I am going to mention them in chronlogical order. Since all of the shows are informative and entertaining – it will be up to you to visit their respective websites for additional information.. Since the shows’ tickets seem to get more expensive every year, I encourage you to use discount tickets (Bi-Mart) and make sure to sign up for “free stuff” like the one-year subscription to “Northwest Sportsman” which is available at some of the shows.

February 2nd – 4th
KEZI EUGENE Boat and Sportsmen’s Show
at 796 W 13th Ave, Eugene (Lane Events Center)

Feb. 7th – 11th
Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show
at the Portland Expo Center
2060 North Marine Dr, Portland,

February 16th – 18th
Roseburg Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Show
at the Douglas County Fairgrounds
2110 Frear St, Roseburg

Feb. 23rd – 25th
KVRD Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreational Show
Jackson County Fairgrounds
1 Peninger Rd, Central Point

March 1st – 4th
Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show
Deschutes County Fairgrounds
3800 SE Airport Way, Redmond

The trout stocking schedules for the first three months of 2018 are now posted for the Northwest Zone, Coos/Coquille, Rogue, and Umpqua and South Coast districts and North Willamette and South Willamette areas. The ODFW will post the schedules for the rest of the state as soon as they are available.

The first trout plant in the Umpqua Zone will be at Cooper Creek Reservoir during the last week in January and will consist of 1,155 14-inch rainbow trout and 345 15-inch or larger rainbows. Loon Lake’s first plant will take place the last week of February and will consist of 1,500 legal rainbows. Lake Marie’s first trout plant will take place during the second week of March and will consist of 2,000 legal rainbows.

The Coos County lakes will begin receiving planted trout during the last week of February and Bradley Lake, Johnson Mill Pond, Powers Pond and Saunders Lake will each receive 3,000 legal trout.

Many Florence-area lakes will receive this year’s initial trout plants during the week beginning Feb. 5th which includes Alder Lake (850 legals, 100 12-inchers and 36 15-inchers); Buck Lake (36 15-inchers); Carter Lake (750 12-inchers); Cleawx Lake (3,000 legals, 450 12-inchers and 150 15-inchers); Dunes Lake (850 legals and 36 15-inchers); Lost Lake (500 12-inchers); Munsel Lake (1,500 12-inchers and 150 15-inchers); Perkins Lake (36 15-inchers) and Siltcoos Lagoon (425 legals and 35 15-inchers).

In a trend that seems sure to build or increase, the ODFW has begun buying some of the trout they plant from private hatcheries. Some of these hatcheries raise high quality fish, but I hope that dealing with profit-seeking ventures does not result in even smaller or fewer trout being planted.

Possibly because it’s pretty much the only coastal lake being targeted by bass anglers, Tenmile Lakes has been providing slow to fair bass fishing over the last couple of weeks. As for yellow perch, fishing has been slow, but since they will be spawning over the next six weeks, it should be the best time of the year to catch fat, egg-laden female perch weighing more than a pound.

Very rough ocean and surf conditions have temporarily halted surfperch fishing. The steep dropoffs along many beaches make it very difficult to retreat a sufficient distance from a rogue wave and jetties and shoreline rocks are dangerousn as well. There was a wave-related fatality last week at Depoe Bay.

Possibly the best free fishing show in our area, the “Flyfishing Expo” put on by the Lower Umpqua Flycasters, will take place at the Reedsport Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 24th between 9 am and 3 pm.

A “Fishing and Conservation” class will be available for the Reedsport Charter School students who sign up for it. The class, organized by Steve Godin of “The Oregon Coast Anglers”, will be a series of nine classes with the first class being on Jan. 23rd and the final class being on Feb. 2nd. One of the OCA’S upcoming projects will be to place as many as 200 of the discarded Christmas trees they have collected into Camp Creek to improve habitat for young steelhead and salmon. The ODFW and students from the Reedsport Charter School will assist with the project.

Spring halibut season for the central Oregon coast will be the topic of Jan. 30 meeting in Newport. The OCA will continue efforts to get separate, but reasonable halibut quotas instead of being lumped in with the Newport area.

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.

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First Meeting of New Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia is Jan. 25 in Newport

Oregon’s new Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) will host its first meeting on Thursday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Newport at the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Guin Library, 2030 Marine Science Drive. A full agenda for the meeting is available online, along with supporting materials.

Oregon lawmakers created the OAH Council through the passage of Senate Bill 1039 last year to look for ways to better understand, adapt to and mitigate the effects of changing ocean conditions. The state has already seen the effects of ocean acidification on its prized shellfish industry after annual die-offs of juvenile oysters at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery started in 2007. Oregon has also seen the effects of intensifying hypoxia events, which have been implicated in die-offs of crabs and other marine life over the past two decades.

“Ocean acidification already has affected Oregon’s shellfish mariculture industry, and we know it is worsening,” says Senator Arnie Roblan. “It’s time to start finding ways to adapt to these new conditions and mitigate them, while we still have time. Our children and businesses depend on it.”

The meeting agenda includes opening remarks from Governor Brown’s Representative and carbon policy advisor Dr. Kristen Sheeran, an analysis of SB 1039, and presentations on recent science and policy developments from Council members including Co-Chairs Dr. Caren Braby (ODFW) and Dr. Jack Barth (Executive Director of Oregon State University’s Marine Studies Initiative). Following the meeting, from 3:30-4:30, the Hatfield Marine Science Center is hosting a seminar with brief presentations by Council members and discussion with the audience.

The public is welcome at the meeting. Attend in person, or by WebEx (use phone number 415-655-0002).

Increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean and fuels ocean acidification. “Ocean acidification is a global problem that is having a disproportionate impact on productive West Coast ecosystems,” says Dr. Francis Chan, Oregon State University. “These changing ocean conditions threaten Oregon’s productive wild ocean fisheries, rich coastal traditions and renowned healthy ecosystem.”

Oregon has been an international leader in policy development related to ocean acidification by promoting and facilitating regional and global coalition-building to develop solutions and mitigate carbon dioxide through international climate agreements. Governor Kate Brown has asked the new OAH Council to build Oregon’s Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Action Plan, as part of Oregon’s ongoing demonstration of leadership.

In addition to the Co-Chairs from ODFW and Oregon State University, the Council includes representatives from the Governor’s office, Oregon Tribes, Oregon DEQ, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Ocean Science Trust, Oregon Sea Grant and representatives from the fishing, shellfish and research communities. The OAH Council will make its first report to the Legislature by September 2018.

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A and H Program Jan. 24 Teleconference Meeting to Discuss New Coos Mtn TMA.

The Access and Habitat Board will host a teleconference call on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss a possible new Travel Management Area to be known as the Coos Mountain TMA within the Tioga Wildlife Management unit.

Members of the public can listen in by calling 1-877-336-1831 and entering passcode 804246.

Commercial timberland ownership in the area has shifted in recent years. The new TMA would provide “Welcome to Hunt” access on 63,000 acres so that hunters would have access to more private and public land in the area. TMAs typically involve some motor vehicle restrictions and help regulate access so private landowners are more willing to open their property to hunters.

The A and H program funds projects that provide hunter access and/or improve wildlife habitat on private land in Oregon. It’s funded by a $4 surcharge on hunting licenses and big game auction and raffle tag sales.

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January 20 Tenmile Lake Largemouths

Harry Bingham, the on-site mechanic at Lakeside Marina with a nice Tenmile Lake largemouth.

Dave Barnes with a winter largemouth from Tenmile Lakes.

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WDFW News – Simplified Fishing Regulations.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a package of simplified sportfishing rules for Washington’s rivers, streams and lakes during its Jan. 18-20 meeting in Ridgefield.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also was briefed on proposed updates to a management plan for harvesting Puget Sound chinook salmon.

Commissioners decided to continue to discuss – and potentially provide guidance on – the proposed Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan during a special conference call on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The commission will convene the call at 8:30 a.m.

The public can listen to the work session, but there will be no opportunity for public comment. More information about the call will be posted Monday on the commission’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2018/.

State and treaty tribal co-managers initially submitted the plan to NOAA Fisheries on Dec. 1, 2017. NOAA has already informed the state and treaty tribes that the plan is insufficient, noting that several key salmon stocks would not meet new — more restrictive — federal conservation objectives.

The plan is required by NOAA for the state and tribes to hold fisheries affecting wild Puget Sound chinook, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The proposed 10-year plan, along with feedback from NOAA, is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/chinook/.

During the meeting in Ridgefield, commissioners approved rules aimed at simplifying sportfishing regulations for freshwater species, including steelhead, trout, warmwater fish, sturgeon, shad and carp.

These rules – which apply to freshwater throughout the state, with some exceptions – will go into effect July 1, 2018. Some of the rules adopted by the commission include:

Reducing the number of exceptions to the year-round lake season.
Eliminating mandatory steelhead retention.
Standardizing the daily limit and minimum size requirements for bass, walleye and channel catfish in the Columbia River (downstream of Chief Joseph dam) and its tributaries, including the Snake River and its tributaries. This change aligns regulations on several rivers with a previously adopted rule that eliminated daily limits and size requirements for these species in most of the region.
WDFW staff withdrew a few proposals that had been put forth during the public review process. One such rule would have allowed chumming statewide while another would have eliminated special rules for panfish statewide. Another rule that was withdrawn would have eliminated a provision that requires anglers using bait to stop fishing for trout after landing the daily limit for that species, regardless of whether the fish are kept or released.

More information on the simplified rules can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2018/01/agenda_jan1818.html.

In other business, the commission directed WDFW staff to initiate a public process to strengthen the conservation and protection of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, which has been classified as a threatened species under state law since 1998. Commission members said they favored elevating the level of protection to endangered, which could increase the likelihood of the species’ survival and recovery.

In the 1800s, the sharp-tailed grouse was the most abundant game bird in eastern Washington, with its highest densities in relatively moist grassland and sagebrush vegetation. But with much of its habitat converted to cropland, and in the wake of major fires in 2015, the population has declined to an estimated total of less than 600 birds.

In the coming weeks, WDFW will seek public comments on the proposed change within a timetable that will enable the commission to make a final decision later this year.

A draft report on the bird’s status is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/.

The commission also voted to make changes to rules for compensating commercial livestock owners for animals killed or injured by wolves. One of those changes establishes market value for the loss of livestock and guard dogs. Another requires livestock producers to exhaust all available compensation from non-profit groups before receiving payment from the department.

Additionally, commissioners approved the purchase of 1.3 acres of floodplain in Whatcom County to restore habitat and 115 acres of land in Ferry County, which includes 3.4 miles of undeveloped shoreline on the Kettle River. The Ferry County acquisition will protect habitat and allow for public access to the river for a variety of non-motorized recreational activities and wildlife viewing.

Minutes and audio recordings of the commission meeting will be available online early next week at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/minutes.html.

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