WDFW News – Canadian-Origin Salmon Transportation Rule Finalized.

Action: Finalizes method for obtaining clearance number for salmon caught in Canada.

Effective Date: July 6, 2018.

Species affected: Salmon.

Location: Washington marine areas.

Reason for action: Anglers seeking to possess and/or land Canadian-caught salmon in Washington waters or ports of call need a way to document the origin of the fish. Canadian Customs and Border Security no longer provides clearance numbers to travelers entering Canadian waters by boat if the travelers do not anchor or go ashore.

WDFW previously instructed anglers to fill out an online form before going fishing in Canada. Consistent with action taken by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, this regulation makes filling out the form a requirement.

Other information: Anglers who intend on fishing for salmon in Canadian waters and returning to a Washington port without clearing customs can find the form online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/canadian_catch.php.

The form requests basic trip and contact information from the leader of a fishing party and must be submitted prior to leaving Washington. The party leader will receive an email from WDFW with a confirmation code.

A Washington fishing license is not required to fish in Canada or to fill out the trip notification form. A WILD ID number can be used to fill out the form but it is not required.

Information contact: Fish Program: Mark Baltzell, 360-902-2807; Enforcement Program: Dan Chadwick, 360-249-4628, ext. 252.

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Remembering “Don Roberts”?

Trying to recall memories of anything that happened five decades ago can be frustrating, but when I graduated from North Bend High School in 1966 and attended Southwestern Oregon Community College for two years the best source of fishing information on Millicoma River Shad and Coos Bay striped bass was a small tackleshop located on the right side of Highway 101 as one leaves Coos Bay traveling south.

I believe the shop owner’s name was Don or Bill Roberts and his wife’s name was Lola.

When I first visited the shop, the Millicoma River had an excellent shad fishery and Coos Bay had a globally-recognized striped bass fishery – and Mr. Roberts was an excellent source of info on both fisheries.

I also remember when Don and Lola were mentioned in the “Salmon-Trout-Steelheader” for their excellent catches when fishing eastern Oregon’s Malheur Reservoir. They were also mentioned in the Oregon fishing guide published by Hennings.

But I will always remember Don for giving me fishing advice early in my fishing career – when I could most use it.

Don Roberts with some Millicoma River shad.

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WDFW News – Fire Closures Extended for Restoration on Parts of Two Southcentral Washington Wildlife Areas.

Following wildfires last month, sections of two wildlife areas in southcentral Washington will remain closed until at least this fall, state lands managers announced today.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is extending previously announced closures to sections of the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area in Kittitas County and the Wenas Wildlife Area in Yakima County to protect fragile burned areas and allow post-fire restoration work.

The Milepost 22 fire on June 20 burned 7,614 acres of the Whiskey Dick unit of the L. T. Murray Wildlife Area. The burned area remains closed through Sept. 15 to all uses while Washington Department of Natural Resources crews complete post-fire tasks. WDFW wildlife area staff will follow up with seeding, weed control, and additional restoration work on the fragile soils.

Visitors can still access the unburned sections of the wildlife area traveling north to south and from the Windfarm east to the Columbia River. The closure does not restrict motorized access from Vantage highway because Whiskey Dick Creek Road remains open although about seven miles of “Green Dot” roads on the Whiskey Dick unit remain closed.

A map of the Whiskey Dick closure is online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/lt_murray/whiskey_dick_fire_closure_2018.pdf

On the Wenas Wildlife Area, the Buffalo fire that started June 2 burned a part of the area that has burned multiple times in recent years. About 4,000 acres of the area, defined by the Yakima River and elk fence, have been closed to use, including access to the southern trailhead of the popular Skyline Trail on Lower Buffalo Road and about three miles of the trail itself.

That closure has been extended through at least Nov. 30, although hunters will have walk-in access during hunting seasons. The closure will likely be extended again into spring 2019 to allow seeded grasses to establish.

A map of the Wenas closure is online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wenas/buffalo_fire_closure_2018.pdf.

“That area has been hit so hard with fires that those fragile soils need protection,” explained Ross Huffman, WDFW regional lands operations manager in Yakima. “Our goal is to protect wildlife habitat and accommodate wildlife recreation as best we can, which is why we’re allowing walk-in access for hunters during the limited hunting seasons.”

The annual target-shooting restrictions, which are in effect across the entire 105,000-arcre Wenas Wildlife Area, remain in place through September. More information about those restrictions is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/jun0618b/.

WDFW wildlife area staff have posted signs about the closures and gated closed areas on both the Wenas and Whiskey Dick wildlife areas.

Visitors to WDFW-managed lands in eastern Washington are reminded to observe the restrictions that are in place to reduce the risk of wildfire to state wildlife areas and access sites. Those restrictions can be found on the department’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/jun2918a/.

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Chasing Giant Crappies in Oregon.

Really big crappies are extremely rare in Oregon. Some of the lakes capable of producing outsized crappies have almost annual water level issues (Gerber Reservoir and the Warner Valley Lakes. Some lakes are simply too big to effectively target the largest crappies – such as Lake Washington which produced Washington’s state record black crappie, a four pound eight ounce fish caught way back in 1956 or Lookout Point Reservoir which has produced white crappies to at least four pounds eight ounces with even larger ones taken in ODFW netting operations.

Some of the Eugene-area lakes offer a chance at a truly humungous crappie as several of them have given up crappies weighing at least three pounds. Dorena and Cottage Grove Reservoirs have done so as has Fall Creek Reservoir. However, Fall Creek Reservoir now spends much of the year being a stream rather than a lake and should no longer be considered a “contender” – but when the water level was relatively stable, the reservoir produced multiple three pound crappies.

Also removed from the contender list would be Lost River which still holds the state record for black crappie – a four pound fish taken back in 1978. For the last three decades, the water quality in Lost River has suffered greatly from the effects of agricultural runoff and jumbo crappies and largemouth bass are no longer a viable angling option.

Oregonians seeking giant crappies are doomed to frustration – the best strategy is to settle for decent crappies and hope to be “surprised” by that extremely rare exception.

This crappie from Lookout Point Reservoir weighed more than four pounds and grabbed a Rapala crank bait.

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Most Unusual Clear Lake Double Ever?

Spotted bass and smallmouth bass are extremely rare in northern California’s Clear Lake, so when these brothers, living near the lake, hooked a spotted bass of more than three pounds and a smallmouth bass weighing nearly four pounds at the same time – they may have pulled off the rarest “double” in Clear Lake’s history.

Largemouth bass doubles are common on Clear Lake, but spots and smallies – not so much.


Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 04 / 2018

Beginning July 1, 2018, the general marine fish bag limit will decrease from five(5) to four(4) fish per angler per day. The general marine fish bag limit includes all species of rockfish (yelloweye rockfish prohibited at all times), greenlings, skates, and all other marine species not listed on pages 81-82 of the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

Angler effort through May is higher than has been seen in recent years, even the record high years of 2015 and 2017. Therefore, this reduction is necessary to try to keep total annual catches within quotas for several species, and reduce the risk of an early closure such as occurred in September 2017.

The daily bag limits for lingcod (2), flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25), and longleader trips/species (10) remain unchanged. The 1 fish sub-bag limit for cabezon will also remain, when cabezon is open (July 1st through December).

Anglers this year made 40,619 bottomfish trips through May (17,750 in May alone), compared to 24,080 for January-May last year, which until 2018 was the highest effort year on record. Angler effort is only expected to increase as summer fishing peaks.

Last year, recreational bottomfish closed on Sept. 18 after the annual quotas for several species were met early, the first in-season closure since 2004. The closure disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers. (Typically, recreational bottomfish fishing is open all year, though effort significantly drops off after early fall.)

ODFW has been working to avoid another early closure this year by providing effort and catch rates at more frequent intervals and modeling impacts of various bag limit scenarios.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission heard testimony from coastal sportfishing businesses before deciding on the 5-fish bag limit when it set regulations back in December, with the understanding that in-season adjustments could be necessary to keep the season open through the end of the year.

On a more happy note, as of July 1st, cabezon became legal to keep with a daily limit of one cabazon at least 16-inches in length.

As of June 30th, finclipped coho are legal to keep in the ocean between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain. The season will close on
on September 3rd unless the quota of 35,000 finclipped cohos is met earlier. Finclipped cohos are legal all year in larger rivers like the Umpqua and ocean chinook longer than 24-inches are legal through October. Last week a number of chinook salmon were caught in the ocean off Winchester Bay and a few early fall chinooks were caught in the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay.

Tuna have been showing up for the last couple of weeks in Newport and Charleston and the fish have been reachable – even for boats launching out of Winchester Bay. One recent report had the tuna 13 miles west of the “Bandon High Spot”. Most of the recent tuna reports had the tuna no more than about 50 miles out – but that can quickly change.

As for the Spring All-Depth halibut season— through the “fixed openings” the total landings are 109,111 pounds; 44,446 pounds landed during the last fixed opening. This leaves 26,631 pounds or 19.6 % of the spring all-depth quota remaining. This is enough to allow for 2 back-up dates, Friday,July 6 and Saturday, July 7 to be open. There will be an announcement by noon on Friday, July 13 if enough quota remains for any additional back-up dates, after those first 2 back-up dates. Remaining back-up dates are July 19, 20 and/or 21.

The Umpqua River pinkfin run is still going on and it appears that it may last several more weeks – if the reports of relatively undeveloped baby perch in the adult female perch being cleaned are accurate. Recent perch fishing reports indicate tough fishing, but it seems that at least a few boats each day are getting close to their legal boat limits.

A minor work project on the Coast Guard Pier at Winchester Bay has been completed and crabbers are, once again, able to crab off of it.

There still seems to be quite a bit of striper fishing pressure on the Smith River, but it is most likely a result of very good May fishing rather than recent fishing success. Striper fishing on the Coquille River has been gradually improving, but almost all of the recent catches have been smaller fish.

Shad fishing success on the Umpqua River has dropped off except at Sawyer’s Rapids where some anglers are catching more than 50 shad per day. Smallmouth bassfishing has generally been very good, but there was a temporary lull last week that was most noticeable on the South Umpqua. Suspended weeds and algae are causing an increasing amount of grief to both shad and bass anglers.

Crappie anglers willing to travel might consider Owyhee Reservoir in eastern Oregon and Prineville Reservoir in central Oregon where 100 fish days are possible – but few fish measure ten inches or more. Brownlee Reservoir on the Snake River is not fishing great for crappie numbers, but many of the crappies are 12-inchers.

A Swiss law that takes effect March 1 bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is being outlawed because the Swiss say it’s cruel and lobsters can sense pain.

The first such national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters: “rendering them unconscious” before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into saltwater and then thrusting a knife into its brain.

The same law also gives domestic pets further protections, such as dogs can no longer be punished for barking.

The measure is part of the broad principle of “animal dignity” enshrined in Switzerland’s Constitution, the only country with such a provision. The Constitution already protects how various animal species must be treated.

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 – Marine Area 6 to Close for Spot Shrimp Fishing; Area 7-West to Close for all Shrimp Fishing.

Action: Recreational fishing for all shrimp species will close at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 6, in Marine Area 7 West (San Juan Channel, Spieden Channel, Stuart and Waldron islands).

Recreational fishing for spot shrimp will close at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 6, in Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles Harbor, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District), but it will remain open for coonstripe and pink shrimp fishing in waters 200 feet or less.

Effective date: 9 p.m. Friday, July 6, 2018.

Species affected: All shrimp species including spot shrimp in Marine Area 7 West; sport shrimp in Marine Area 6 (excluding Discovery Bay shrimp district).

Location: West Marine Area 7 and Marine Area 6 (excluding the Discovery Bay shrimp district).

Reason for action: The target share for recreational spot shrimp quota has been taken in these two areas.

Other information: Only Marine Areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and 5 (western Strait of Juan de Fuca) remain open for spot shrimp fishing.

Several other marine areas are open for coonstripe and pink shrimp fishing. Check WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp/ for more information.

Contact: Don Velasquez, Mill Creek, (425) 775-1311 ext. 112

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WDFW News – Chinook Salmon Retention to Close July 3 on Cowlitz River.

Action: Chinook salmon retention closes on the Cowlitz and Cispus rivers and in Lake Scanewa.

Effective dates: July 3 through July 31, 2018.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Locations: The Cowlitz River from the mouth to Forest Road 1270, Cispus River, and Lake Scanewa.

Reason for action: Cowlitz River spring chinook has experienced a series of low runsizes in recent years. The 2018 return was again anticipated to be relatively low and to date is far below expectations. To help ensure hatchery broodstock goals are met, WDFW is closing the fishery now, allowing for additional fish to be transported above Cowlitz Falls Dam for reintroduction purposes.

Additional information: The Cowlitz River fall chinook run will begin arriving in August as the spring chinook run comes to end, so the fishery regulations will revert to permanent regulations on Aug. 1. All other permanent rules remain in effect. Please refer to the Sport Fishing Pamphlet for complete rule information.

Information Contact: Tom Wadsworth, District Fish Biologist, (360) 906-6709

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WDFW News – Eastern Washington Wildlife Area Restrictions.

The arrival of hot, dry weather has prompted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to restrict fires and other activities beginning June 30 on agency-managed lands in eastern Washington.

Cynthia Wilkerson, manager of the WDFW Lands Division, said the department is taking steps to reduce the risk of fire in state wildlife areas and access areas.

“Following fire restrictions and exercising common sense are the most important steps people can take to preserve public recreation lands and wildlife habitat,” Wilkerson said.

The department has issued an emergency order that imposes restrictions beginning June 30 on agency lands east of the Cascades. The new rule prohibits:

Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
Welding and operating chainsaws. Operating a torch with an open flame and all equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.
Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. Throwing a lit cigarette or any other burning material from a motor vehicle on a state highway also is prohibited year-round.

WDFW owns and manages over 700,000 acres in eastern Washington. The restrictions in these areas will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases, Wilkerson said. Any changes will be posted on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov.

For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ website (http://www.dnr.wa.gov) or the U.S. Forest Service website (http://www.fs.usda.gov).

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Striper Fishing With Darrel Gabel

More than four decades ago, my friend and fellow Lakeside resident became quite serious about becoming a striped bass guide. As he checked out various fishing techniques and various striper haunts, I often had the pleasure of fishing with him.

The mouth of Jack Franz Slough on the Smith River near the tower for the radio station was the only striper spot I introduced Darrel to. I had been introduced to the spot a few nights before with Dick Duryea and we had caught quite a few school stripers and one 20 pounder on lugworms. But what was most amazing about the night was that Dick grabbed every rod that got a bite – sometimes leaping entirely over me to reach the rod first – which was impressive because he was on complete disability because of a bad back.

So I told Darrel about the outing in the hopes of wrangling a more equitable fishing trip and it wasn’t long before we were sliding Darrel’s eight foot long “striper boat into the Smith River after first spending an hour digging lugworms in the sandy mud at Empire.

The fishing was good. In about three hours we caught six stripers and they were all adults of more than 20 pounds. Darrel caught five of them – ranging from 21 to 25 pounds, while I had one feeble bite that turned into a 44 pound striper – my all-time best.

I’ll always remember Darrel griping about not catching a “big one”. But he went on to catch stripers to about 60 pounds and got his clients into stripers exceding 64 pounds – I ended up not feeling guilty about the lunker striper I caught that night.

Back then, we thought the striper fisheries in the Umpqua, Coos and Coquille river systems were “forever” fisheries and we infrequently caught and kept our daily limit of five stripers. I, and everybody else, had no idea that Oregon’s stripers would suffer more than four decades of very limited spawning success.

Here’s hoping for their future.

Darrel Gabel and Pete Heley with four of their six stripers totaling 159 pounds.

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