Monthly Archives: April 2018

WDFW News – Recreational Bottomfish Changes

Coastal recreational bottomfish limit changes

Actions: Increases the daily limit for canary rockfish to two fish (from one) in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport).

Establishes a daily limit of three flatfish (excluding halibut), such as sole, flounder or sanddab, in all coastal marine areas west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line (marine areas 1 – 4). The new daily limit of flatfish does not count toward an angler’s overall limit of nine bottomfish per day.

Effective date: Immediately

Locations and species affected: As a result of the changes listed above, daily limits for ocean bottomfish are as follows:

Marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport): Anglers can keep any combination of nine bottomfish per day including:

Up to two lingcod;
Up to two cabezon; and
Up to seven rockfish (as many as two of which may be canary rockfish).
In addition to the daily limit of nine bottomfish, anglers may keep up to three flatfish (excluding halibut), such as sole, sanddab, and flounder, per day.

Marine Area 3 (La Push): Anglers can keep any combination of nine bottomfish per day including:

Up to two lingcod;
Up to two cabezon; and
Up to seven rockfish (canary rockfish retention is prohibited).
In addition to the daily limit of nine bottomfish, anglers may keep up to three flatfish (excluding halibut), such as sole, sanddab, and flounder, per day.

Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line: Anglers can keep any combination of nine bottomfish per day including:

Up to two lingcod;
Up to one cabezon; and
Up to seven rockfish (canary rockfish retention is prohibited).
In addition to the daily limit of nine bottomfish, anglers may keep up to three flatfish (excluding halibut), such as sole, sanddab, and flounder, per day.

Reason for action:

At its March meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) approved changes to the Washington coastal recreational bottomfish fishery for 2018 as recommended by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Canary rockfish retention was allowed in 2017 with initial allowance limited to one fish per day in marine areas 1 and 2 only. WDFW’s recommendation to increase the sublimit from one fish to two fish per angler was based on 2017 recreational catch information. Analysis showed that canary catch was well below the federally established harvest quota and sufficient to consider changes for 2018. Retention of canary rockfish in marine areas 3 and 4 remains prohibited.

WDFW also recommended, and the Council approved, a daily limit of three flatfish (excluding Pacific halibut) per day that would not be subject to the daily aggregate bottomfish limit, which would remain at nine.

Both of these changes are intended to provide some additional recreational fishing opportunity to Washington recreational anglers.

These rules conform to action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC).

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487

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WDFW News – Catch-and-Release Steelhead Fishery to Open on Skagit, Sauk Rivers.

A catch-and-release fishery for wild steelhead will get underway April 14 in sections of the Skagit and Sauk rivers, which have been closed to wild steelhead fishing for several years.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) made the announcement today after receiving approval from NOAA Fisheries on a proposed five-year steelhead fishery plan, developed by state and tribal co-managers to meet shared conservation objectives.

Fishery managers have scheduled openings beginning April 14-15, and continuing April 18-22, and 25-29. The fishery includes the following areas:

Skagit River, from the Dalles Bridge in the town of Concrete to the Cascade River Road Bridge in Marblemount. Fishing from a boat that is under power is prohibited.
Sauk River, from the mouth to the Sauk Prairie Road Bridge in Darrington. Fishing from a boat equipped with an internal combustion motor is prohibited.
WDFW is taking a conservative approach to the trial fishery by limiting time on the water and requiring anglers to use single-point barbless hooks to reduce injury to steelhead as the fish are released. Anglers should be aware that night closures are in effect and the use of bait is prohibited. More details on the fishery rules are available online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2110.

The season is based largely on the number of wild steelhead forecast to return to the basin as well as the level of monitoring and enforcement required for the fishery, said Edward Eleazer, regional fish program manager for WDFW. The fishery could close early or have additional restrictions, so anglers should check the website listed above before heading out.

“Anglers have an incredible opportunity to fish for wild steelhead on one of the renowned rivers of the west coast,” Eleazer said. “To ensure there will be steelhead fishing in the basin for years to come, we’re asking anglers to comply with all fishery rules and to help keep the river free of litter.”

Eleazer noted the cooperation of the Skagit River tribes was essential in the development of a fishery plan and securing federal approval for this year’s recreational fishery. The approved plan includes tribal fisheries, but the tribes have not scheduled steelhead fisheries this year in order to limit fishery impacts.

Puget Sound wild steelhead have been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 2007. Lacking an approved fishery management plan, WDFW closed the Skagit Basin to wild steelhead fishing in 2010.

Ongoing efforts by WDFW and the tribes to protect habitat, remove fish passage barriers and improve steelhead survival in Puget Sound have resulted in increasing numbers of wild steelhead returning to the basin in recent years.

“It’s critical that this work continues in order to fully restore wild steelhead – our state fish – to the Skagit Basin,” Eleazer said.

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WDFW News – Chinook Fishery Below Bonneville Dam Will Reopen This Saturday for One Day.

– Anglers will have an opportunity to fish for spring chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River this Saturday (April 14) for one day only under an agreement reached Wednesday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

Fishing regulations will be the same as those in effect before the initial chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam closed April 7 for a fishery assessment.

Under those rules, anglers can retain one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of a daily limit of two adult fish that can also include hatchery coho salmon and hatchery steelhead. Boat anglers can fish from Buoy 10 up to Beacon Rock, while bank anglers can fish all the way up to Bonneville Dam.

All anglers fishing the Columbia River are required to use barbless hooks, and must release any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin.

Bill Tweit, a fishery manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the one-day fishery this Saturday is designed in part as a “make-up day” for the last Saturday of the initial opener, when stormy weather kept many anglers off the water.

Tweit said fishery managers from both states are taking a cautious approach to extending the fishery given the low number of spring chinook observed passing up the fish ladders to date at Bonneville Dam.

“We’re taking this a step at a time,” Tweit said. “We know more fish are moving into the river, but we need to see signs of higher numbers of fish passing the dam before we consider reopening the fishery again.”

According to the preseason forecast, approximately 166,700 upriver spring chinook salmon are expected to return to the Columbia River this year. Based on that forecast, fishery managers set an initial catch guideline of 7,157 upriver chinook for the sport fishery below the dam, but so far anglers have caught only about half that many fish.

“If the run meets or exceeds expectations, we can give anglers more time to fish below the dam,” Tweit said. “But right now, we need to make sure we can meet conservation requirements and our obligations to fisheries farther upriver.”

Anglers age 15 and older are required to have a valid 2018-19 fishing license to fish in Washington state waters. A Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement (https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/crss_endorsement/) is also required to fish for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River or its tributaries.

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WDFW News – Washington’s Salmon Fishing Seasons SetFfor 2018.

With low returns of chinook and coho salmon expected back to numerous rivers in Washington, state and tribal co-managers Tuesday agreed on a fishing season that meets conservation goals for wild fish while providing fishing opportunities on healthy salmon runs.

The 2018-19 salmon fisheries, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Portland, Ore.

Information on recreational salmon fisheries in Washington’s ocean waters and the Columbia River is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. The webpage also includes information on some notable Puget Sound sport fisheries, as well as an overview of chinook and coho fishing opportunities in the Sound’s marine areas.

A variety of unfavorable environmental conditions, including severe flooding in rivers and warm ocean water, have reduced the number of salmon returning to Washington’s rivers in recent years, said Ron Warren, head of WDFW’s fish program.

In addition, the loss of quality rearing and spawning habitat continues to take a toll on salmon populations throughout the region, where some stocks are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, he said.

“It’s critical that we ensure fisheries are consistent with ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild wild salmon stocks,” Warren said. “Unfortunately, the loss of salmon habitat continues to outpace these recovery efforts. We need to reverse this trend. If we don’t, salmon runs will continue to decline and it will be increasingly difficult to develop meaningful fisheries.”

A bright spot in this year’s salmon season planning process was a renewed commitment by Indian and non-Indian fishermen to work together for the future of salmon and salmon fishing, said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

“No fisherman wants to catch the last salmon. We know that the ongoing loss of habitat, a population explosion of hungry seals and sea lions and the needs of endangered southern resident killer whales are the real challenges facing us today. We must work together if we are going to restore salmon to sustainable levels,” she said.

Low returns of some salmon stocks prompted state and tribal fishery managers to limit opportunities in many areas to protect those fish.
For example, recreational anglers will have less opportunity to fish for chinook salmon in both the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters compared to recent years. Tribal fisheries also will be restricted in certain areas to protect weak stocks.

In meeting conservation objectives for wild salmon, the co-managers are limiting fisheries in areas where southern resident killer whales are known to feed. The adjustments will aid in minimizing boat presence and noise, and decrease competition for chinook and other salmon in areas critical to the declining whales.

Details on all recreational salmon fisheries will be provided in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in late June.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 11 / 2018

Quite a few area lakes received trout plants this week. Loon Lake and Lake Marie each received 1,000 legal rainbows. Other Douglas County lakes receiving trout plants include Ben Irving Reservoir with 1,000 legal rainbows; Plat ‘I’ Reservoir with 1,000 legal rainbows; Cooper Creek Reservoir with 1,500 legal rainbows and Galesville Reservoir with 1,667 trophy rainbows. Curry County lakes receiving trout plants included Floras Lake with 150 trophy trout and Garrison Lake with 250 trophies. In Coos County, Bradley Lake received 3,000 legal rainbows and 200 trophies and both Upper and Lower Empire lakes received 250 trophy rainbows. Florence-area lakes receiving trout plants included Carter Lake with 750 trophy rainbows; Cleawox Lake with 1,475 trophy rainbows and Woahink Lake with 1,000 trophy rainbows.

Sometimes when a lake is slated to receive identical trout plants during successive weeks. it is because the earlier stocking was delayed and that may be the case with Cleawox Lake which is slated for 1,475 trophy rainbows next week. Also slated to receive trout plants next week are: Alder Lake, Dune Lake, Empire Lakes, Garrison Lake, Georgia Lake, Mercer Lake, Munsel Lake, Perkins Lake, Powers Pond, Siltcoos Lagoon, Siltcoos Lake, Sutton Lake and North and South Tenmile lakes.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty continues to offer good fishing for lingcod and rockfish – as does virtually every saltwater jetty in Oregon. Striped surfperch are entering their pre-spawn period and have also been biting well. Greenling, which no longer have a minimum size limit, are being caught primarily on the ocean side of the south side of the “Triangle”.

Redtail surfperch, often called “pinkfins” and walleye surfperch have been biting well on the beach adjacent to the second parking lot south of the Triangle. Other popular surfperch spots are Horsfall Beach near North Bend, Sparrow Park Road near Gardiner and near the mouth of the Siltcoos River at the end of Siltcoos Beach Access Road.

The much-anticipated run of female redtail surfperch up the Umpqua River usually starts around the first week in May and lasts until late July

The first shad should be bending rods on the Umpqua River near Sawyers Rapids and Yellow Creek within the next couple of weeks.

Spring chinook fishing on the Umpqua and Rogue rivers continues to be slow, but it is still early in the season and fishing should improve.

While talking to the folks at Darlings Resort on Siltcoos Lake, I learned that there was 18 bass tournaments scheduled to be held on the lake this year. It was only several years ago that Siltcoos Lake bass tournaments were a rarity. It’s amazing what one well-attended and productive bass tournament can do to a lake’s extended fishing pressure.

I also learned that the heaviest Siltcoos Lake bass taken in a tournament so far this year weighed seven pounds nine ounces and the biggest yellow perch turned in to the resort last year measured 16-inches – which almost certainly would have been a state record if it was caught prior to spawning and weighed on a certified scale.

Striped bass should be on the agenda. On the Smith River, stripers seem to school up in a few holes on the North Fork about three miles upstream of where the North Fork Smith River enters the mainstem Smith River. It seems that every year a few stripers are spotted in the Umpqua River near Sawyer’s Rapids – but seldom fished for. On the Coquille River, the spring striper fishery occurs from the Arago Boat Ramp upriver.

On the Coquille River in the spring, muddy water is often a factor limiting fishing success.

As for largemouth bass angling, some of the larger coastal lakes have water temperatures in the mid-50’s. However for the next couple of weeks we won’t have a series of consecutive warm days needed to raise water temperatures a noticeable amount.

Some of the shallow lakes in the southern Willamette valley in which fishing may improve during a single warmer day would be Ford’s Pond, Plat ‘I’ Reservoir and Selmac Lake.

I wish the ODFW in western Oregon would do more of what the state of Washington did more than ten years ago – and that is plant several juvenile white sturgeon. Washington officials planted the juvenile sturgeon in the upper Columbia River and the survival rate was surprisingly good – to the point where WDFW officials are now concerned with these, now adult, hatchery sturgeon interracting with native sturgeon.
Starting on April 29th, anglers will be allowed to harvest two sturgeon per day from Wanapum or Priest Rapids reservoirs. The sturgeon must have a fork length between 38 and 72-inches.

Sturgeon caught in these reservoirs will not count toward an angler’s annual limit for sturgeon and anglers will not be required to record sturgeon harvested from the two reservoirs on their catch record cards. Additionally, anglers may fish for sturgeon in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs with two rods with the purchase of a 2-rod endorsement. This fishery, now in its third season, will run until Sept. 1st.

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 – WDFW Launches New Fish Washington Regulations App Ahead of Fishing Opener.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) debuted a new mobile app today that promises to make determining fishing regulations for Washington waters easier and more convenient.

The free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/mobile_app.html), is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state.

The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules.

“The Fish Washington app is a step in our ongoing effort to make fishing simpler in Washington,” said Thiesfeld. The app release comes ahead of the season’s lowland lakes fishing opener Apr. 28, the state’s biggest fishing day of the year.

The application contains these features, among others:

Interactive map-based rules to help anglers find fishing near them.
Details on harvest limits and allowable gear for fishable species in each body of water.
Links to the Fish Washington website and instructional videos designed to convey when, where and how to fish in Washington.
Locations of boat launches and other fishing access points.
Ability to add waypoints on maps, and report poaching in progress.
Downloadable updates and offline capacity designed for those who may not have cell service in remote areas or on the water.
“The Fish Washington app is a planning and mapping tool that should be on every Washington angler’s smart phone,” said Thiesfeld.

Development of the “Fish Washington” app is part of a larger set of communication initiatives the department is working on in response to public feedback in recent years.

Other examples include ongoing efforts to simplify fishing rules and redesign of the department’s website.

The beta version of the app underwent testing by thousands of anglers in the state over recent months.

Future plans include electronic sportfishing catch record cards and a comparable mobile hunting application.

“We are grateful to the outdoorspeople that made suggestions, tested and helped support us as we have worked to develop this phone app,” said Thiesfeld. “They are a big part of our work to maintain and improve the fishing experience in Washington.”

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Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 04 / 2018

Possibly a reaction to California closing its abalone season and the resulting increase in abalone harvest in Oregon waters, Oregon decided to close abalone harvest for the next three years – with the Commission requesting annual updates. After 3 years there will be another another rulemaking meeting where the closure will be either be extended or amended with new fishery rules depending on an evaluation of the situation at that time. The Commission suggested a “big game” model be adapted for the fishery (lottery permits).

Officials say salmon soon could return to the upper reaches of the Columbia River for the first time in seven decades.

According to a Northwest News Network report, Cody Desautel, director of natural resources for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, stated that his group will “trap and haul” fish out of its hatchery and put them above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams in northeast Washington (respectively 545 and 595 miles above the Pacific Ocean). He says “there will be salmon above Grand Coulee Dam this year for the first time in 70 years.”

Desautel says the plan hangs on one last federal permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If the final permit is approved, Colville fish managers will trap salmon at their hatchery and drive them around the dam by truck, where they’ll be released back into the Columbia River. The tribe will keep track of where those fish go.

If the salmon successfully use spawning areas above these dams, at the very least it should increase the number of salmon entering the Columbia River when their progeny attempt to make the lengthy journey back to their birthplace.

Marine waters deeper than 30 fathoms closed to conventional bottomfishing March 31st and during the last few days of the season the fishing was very, very good with surprisingly heavy fishing pressure. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty has been fishing fair for rockfish, greenling and striped surfperch and good for lingcod.

Fishing pressure for ocean chinook has been very light and unproductive. Spring chinook fishing on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers has been slow, but should show gradual improvement as it is still early for that run. Although no lunker-sized springers have yet been reported caught in either river, hope fully their springers will not exhibit a shrinking average size to the degree that the Columbia River has.

The regulations are quite complex, but there will be sturgeon fishing and retention (white sturgeon only) on the Columbia River this year. While the season is open, the daily limit will be one sturgeon with a fork length of 38 to 54-inches between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam (minimum fork length 43-inches above The Dalles Dam) and with a season limit of two sturgeon. Make sure to check the ODFW website for more detailed information.

Mingus Park Pond was indeed stocked last week, but I checked it twice last week and saw no evidence of trout. I watched several cormorants go fishless for an hour – yet a young lad started hooking nine to ten inch rainbows every several casts. It was quite pleasing to note that cormorants are very inefficient trout predators in extremely shallow water.

Other Coos County waters being stocked this week include Butterfield Lake and Johnson Mill Pond with with 3,000 legal rainbows each. Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are slated for 1,000 larger rainbows each.

Both Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek remain open for hatchery steelhead through April 30th and since both streams’ steelhead tend to be late-arriving – there should still be fair numbers of steelhead present.

Yellow perch in all area waters are in post-spawn mode, while smallmouth bass should be approaching immedire pre-spawn mode. Crappie should begin spawning in late April. Largemouth bass should begin spawning in early May and bluegills should begin spawning in early June. Bullhead catfish usually spawn in late May or early June.

To reduce the threat to young fish, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is working with several nonprofit and local governmental organizations to haze cormorants on six coastal estuaries over the next two to four months. ODFW has coordinated the cormorant hazing project for the last 9 years, although cormorant hazing in some form has occurred at some Oregon estuaries intermittently since 1988.

Hazing will continue through May 31 on the Nehalem, Nestucca, and Coquille river estuaries, and on Tillamook and Alsea bays. The program will continue through at least July 31 on the lower Columbia River, where hazing will occur at a variety of locations, including Young’s Bay, Blind Slough, and Tongue Point.

The Oregon Bass & Panfish Club recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with an active membership of more than 230. The Portland-based club has had as many 700 members during different periods in the club’s lifetime. The club performs many outdoor-related projects in northwest Oregon, but the neatest thing about the club, to me, is their multi-species fishing tournament where the length of the largest specimen of each fish species is recorded and the largest “total length” wins the tournament.
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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