Washington Dept. Of Fish & Wildlife

 

Important Notices &
Releases From The WDFW

King County's Beaver Lake getting 2,000
oversized hatchery rainbow trout

OLYMPIA - Anglers will have an opportunity next week to catch lunker trout in Beaver Lake near Issaquah, thanks to the release of about 2,000 hatchery rainbows in the 1- to 3-pound range.

The release by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is scheduled for the week of Nov. 14. The trout were part of an educational display at WDFW's Issaquah Hatchery.

Beaver Lake is best fished by small boat, according to WDFW fisheries managers. The access site is most easily reached via East Beaver Lake Drive Southeast, off Southeast 24th Street in the city of Sammamish.

Parking for vehicles and boat trailers is limited. Internal combustion engines are prohibited on the lake. A valid WDFW vehicle access permit must be easily visible in or on vehicles parked at the access site.

Beaver Lake is one of several westside lowland lakes open to fishing year-round. Most other lowland lakes closed to trout fishing Oct. 31. All anglers 15 years of age and older are required to have a valid fishing license. The daily bag limit is five fish. Bait anglers must count all trout, whether kept or released, as part of their daily limit. Each angler must keep his or her fish separate from other anglers' fish.

Anglers are advised to check the 2005/06 "Fishing in Washington " sport fishing rules pamphlet for complete details. The pamphlet is available at hundreds of retail outlets, or on the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ .

 

October 20 2005  
Contact: Cindy Le Fleur, (360) 906-6708 (WDFW)
John North, (503) 657-2000, ext. 251(ODFW)

Washington, Oregon fish and wildlife commissions
to meet Nov. 3 on Columbia River fish management

OLYMPIA -- Management of Columbia River chinook salmon and white sturgeon fisheries over the next several years will be the focus of a Nov. 3 joint public meeting of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions.
 
The meeting is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Pavilion of the Columbia County Fairgrounds, 58892 Saulser Road, in St. Helens, Ore.
 
The special meeting is intended to allow the commissions to be jointly briefed by Washington and Oregon fish managers, and to discuss development of concurring policies for Columbia River salmon and white sturgeon fisheries for the next several years.
 
No public comment will be taken at the special joint session, but public testimony will be taken at separate meetings of the two commissions later this fall and winter.
 
The joint meeting will focus management issues, including Columbia River recreational-commercial fishery allocations for:

  • Spring chinook salmon, including impacts to wild winter steelhead caught incidentally in the commercial spring chinook fishery 
  • Summer chinook salmon 
  • Fall chinook salmon 
  • White sturgeon, including recent efforts to protect broodstock

With Washington and Oregon sharing jurisdiction over mainstem Columbia River fisheries, the joint meeting is an important opportunity for the two commissions to discuss a range of fish management issues, said Bill Tweit, Columbia River fish policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
 
"This meeting is a chance for both commissions to view fishery management issues from a year-round perspective," Tweit said.
 
The Washington and Oregon commissions will vote separately on management policies for the Columbia River chinook salmon and sturgeon fisheries. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to set Washington’s sturgeon management policy at its regular meeting Dec. 2-3 in Olympia. The commission will vote on spring chinook fishery policies, including incidental winter steelhead impacts, during its Jan. 13-14 meeting in Olympia, and will vote on summer chinook and fall chinook fishery issues at is Feb. 10-11 meeting in Olympia.
 
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on sturgeon management policy at its Dec. 2 meeting in Salem. The commission will vote on spring chinook and steelhead fishery policies at its January meeting, and take action on summer and fall chinook fisheries in February. Oregon has not yet scheduled 2006 Commission meetings.
 
More information on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and upcoming meetings is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/comintro.htm on the WDFW website.

More information on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and upcoming meetings is available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/ .

October 18, 2005


Chinook retention to reopen Oct. 20 on Columbia River
 from Buoy 10 upstream to Highway 395 bridge

Action: Retention of chinook salmon will be allowed on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to the Highway 395 bridge, as permitted under permanent regulations.

Effective date: 12:01 a.m. Oct. 20, 2005

Species affected: Chinook salmon

Location: Mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to the Highway 395 bridge, near Pasco, Wash.

Reason for action: Opportunity for additional chinook harvest is available. Allowable impacts to the ESA-listed Snake River wild fall chinook remain on the non-Indian guideline.

Other information: Refer to the 2005-2006 Fishing in Washington pamphlet for area-specific regulations and catch limits.

Information contact: WDFW Region 5 office in Vancouver,  (360) 696-6211. Dial (360) 696-6211 *1010 for hotline.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

October 14, 2005

Fishing closure lifted near Naselle hatchery

Action: Opens the Naselle River near the Naselle salmon hatchery to salmon fishing when the river section from the Highway 4 bridge to the Crown Mainline (Salme) bridge opens on Oct.16.

Effective dates: Oct. 16, 2005 through Jan. 31, 2006

Species affected: Salmon and game fish

Location: Naselle River - The area from 200 feet upstream of the Naselle salmon hatchery water supply intake barrier to 400 feet downstream of the entrance to the adult attraction channel will be open to fishing for salmon and game fish when the river section from the Highway 4 bridge to the Crown Mainline (Salme) bridge opens to salmon fishing on Oct. 16.

Other Information: Daily limit and size restrictions listed in the sport fishing rules pamphlet for this section of the Naselle River remain in effect. Other regulations continue to be in place for this area of the Naselle: no night fishing; single barbless hooks required; line and weight and lure or bait must be moving (not stationary). The area from the falls in Sec. 6, T10N, R8W (Wahkiakum Co.) downstream 400 feet remains closed to all fishing.

Reason for action: Recent rains and the resulting increased flow have helped the upstream migration of chinook and brought an abundance of hatchery coho into this area. Also, through the placement of a weir earlier this fall, the Naselle hatchery is on track to meet its chinook egg take goal.   

Information contact: Barbara McClellan - (360) 249-4628 ext. 213

October 12, 2005

Elochoman River to close to salmon fishing

Action: Close Elochoman River to salmon fishing  

Effective dates: Oct. 16 through Dec. 31, 2005

Species affected: All salmon 

Location: Elochoman River from mouth to West Fork 

Reason for action: Late-run hatchery coho are expected to return below numbers needed for hatchery broodstock.

Other information: Other regulations for trout and other game fish are listed in the 2005/2006 "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet.

Information contact: Wolf Dammers (360) 906-6709

October 12, 2005
Contact: Cindy LeFleur (360) 906-6708

Second public meeting targets
Columbia River fishing issues

OLYMPIA -- Future allocations of salmon and sturgeon in the Columbia River will be the focus of a public meeting Oct. 20 in Cathlamet, hosted by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife departments.

Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions will decide this winter how to allocate salmon and sturgeon between recreational and commercial interests in both states for the next several years.  The meeting Oct. 20, like one held earlier this month in Vancouver, Wash., will allow people to learn about, and comment on, the issues.

"We want to give the public a chance to learn about these issues and provide input before we go to the commission," said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "There are so many Columbia River issues we wanted to wrap them all together."

The public meeting is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Julius Wendt Elementary School, 265 South Third St., in Cathlamet.

Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions will be briefed on Columbia River fish-allocation issues at a joint meeting Nov. 3.  No public testimony will be taken at that that meeting, although both states' commissions will schedule public comment periods during each of the meetings that follow.

In early December, each commission will decide on commercial and recreational allocations for sturgeon. The Washington meeting is scheduled Dec. 2-3 in the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. on the capitol campus in Olympia.

In January, the commissions will approve allocations for spring chinook and consider wild winter steelhead impacts in Columbia River spring chinook fisheries.  In February, the commissions will consider allocations for summer chinook and fall chinook.

WDFW will publicize the time and location of those public meetings once they are available.

 

 

WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

http://wdfw.wa.gov/

 

CROSSING PATHS
With Wildlife in Washington Towns and  Cities

The Fall 2005 edition of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Backyard Wildife Sanctuary program newsletter "Crossing Paths with Wildlife in Washington's Cities and Towns" is now available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/crospath/ .  Thank you for setting the stage for this first all-electronic edition by subscribing via e-mail. To meet our sustainability and budgeting goals, all of your fellow Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary managers will now have to receive it in this format, too.  Without paper and mailing costs and restrictions, we plan to produce editions every season of the year now, so you can look for the next one in January.


October 4, 2005
 

Reiter Ponds section of Skykomish River
opens Oct. 8, 2005 for recreational fishing
 

Action:   Open the Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River to recreational fishing.
 
Effective date:   Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005 at 6 a.m.
 
Species affected:   All game fish, including hatchery steelhead.
 
Location:   Skykomish River, from 1,500 feet upstream to 1,000 feet downstream of the Reiter Ponds Hatchery outlet.
 
Reason for action:   The Reiter Ponds Hatchery has collected enough summer steelhead broodstock to meet production needs.        
 
Other information:   Public access through the Reiter Ponds Hatchery opens at 6 a.m.  
 
Information contact:   Chad Jackson, WDFW district fish biologist, (425) 775-1311, ext. 113.
Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

 

October 5, 2005        
Contacts:  Bob Jateff, Omak, (509) 826-7341
Joe Miller, Ephrata, (509) 754-6066

Upper Columbia, Okanogan, Methow rivers
will open Saturday for steelhead fishing

OLYMPIA - Fishing for hatchery steelhead is scheduled to open Oct. 8 in the upper Columbia, Okanogan and Methow rivers under special rules designed to protect wild fish, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Starting Nov.15, anglers will also be allowed to fish for hatchery steelhead on the Similkameen River, when most wild chinook will have finished spawning.

The daily catch limit on all four rivers is two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery steelhead of at least 20 inches in length. All steelhead with an intact adipose fin - the small, fatty fin on the back near the tail - and those bearing a disk tag must immediately be released unharmed.

Both wild and hatchery-origin steelhead in the region are listed as "endangered" under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), which required WDFW to obtain a permit from NOAA-Fisheries before opening the fisheries.

A key objective of steelhead fisheries in the region is to reduce the proportion of hatchery-origin steelhead contributing to the adult spawning escapement next spring, said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.

"Removing hatchery-origin fish will increase the proportion of wild steelhead on the spawning grounds and improve the natural production potential in the upper Columbia River basin," he said.  "Of course, we also recognize the enormous value of this fishery for anglers and local communities."

Consistent with its federal permit, WDFW will closely monitor the fishery to ensure that enough wild steelhead reach area rivers to spawn, Koenings said.

"If we need to modify the fishery to meet ESA escapement goals for wild steelhead, we will," Koenings said.  "But I am confident we will meet those goals, as we have in previous years."

Barring any changes necessary to meet ESA goals, the following waters are scheduled to open for hatchery steelhead fishing Oct. 8 through March 31:

  • The Columbia River from Rocky Reach Dam to the Highway 17 bridge at Bridgeport.  Standard gear rules will be in effect. 
  • The Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to one-quarter mile below the railroad trestle below Zosel Dam.  However, the section of river from the Highway 155 bridge in Omak to a line across the river 500 feet above the mouth of Omak Creek will close March 1.  Selective gear rules, including a prohibition on bait and barbed hooks, will be in effect.
  • The Methow River from the mouth (Highway 97 Bridge) upstream to the second power line crossing, and from the first Highway 153 bridge north of Pateros to the confluence with the Chewuch River. Selective gear rules will be in effect. 

In addition, the Similkameen River will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead from Nov. 15 through March 31 from the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.  Selective gear rules will be in effect.

Anglers will be allowed to use boats with motors on the Okanogan and Methow rivers, but night closures will be in effect on all four rivers.

Additional regulations, including a full description of open and closed areas, are available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .


October 5, 2005

Upper Columbia, Okanogan, Methow rivers
Will open for steelhead fishing

Action: Areas of the upper Columbia, Okanogan, and Methow rivers will open to recreational fishing targeting adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead.  The daily limit is two fish, 20-inch minimum size.  Rules affecting other species in these areas are changed to be consistent with steelhead rule requirements.

Effective dates:

Species affected: Steelhead, other game fish species and salmon

Location & Restrictions:

  1. Columbia River: From the Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport: Statewide gear rules for all fish species, night closure in effect, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. 
  2. Okanogan River from mouth upstream except closed waters from Lake Osoyoos Control   Dam (Zosel Dam) downstream to ¼ mile below the railroad trestle. The area from the Highway 97 Bridge at Omak to a line across the river 500 feet above the mouth of Omak Creek will close March 1, 2006.  Selective gear rules for all fish species, except it is lawful to fish from a floating device equipped with a motor. Night closure in effect and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. From the highway bridge at Malott upstream, closed to all species except adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead.
  3. Methow River - From the mouth (Highway 97 bridge) upstream to the confluence with the Chewuch (Chewack) River in Winthrop:  EXCEPT closed from the second powerline crossing upstream of the Highway 97 Bridge upstream to first Highway 153 Bridge north of Pateros: Selective gear rules, except it is lawful to fish from a floating device equipped with a motor, night closure in effect, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. 

Reason for action: The wild run returning to areas above Priest Rapids Dam is large enough to meet minimum spawning requirements. The recreational fishery will reduce the proportion of hatchery-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds, thereby minimizing impact to wild steelhead spawning in upper Columbia River tributaries.  This will increase the proportion of wild steelhead on the spawning grounds and improve natural production.

Other information:   The Similkameen River, from its mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam, will open to the harvest of adipose fin-clipped hatchery origin steelhead November 15, 2005 through March 31, 2006.  The Similkameen River fishery rules will be: selective gear rules, night closure, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

During the December 1 to March 31 whitefish seasons on the Methow and Similkameen rivers whitefish gear rules will not apply.

In corresponding areas open to salmon and other game fish, a night closure will be in effect.

In the areas open to steelhead fishing anglers are permitted to harvest hatchery origin steelhead with an adipose fin-clip and a healed scar in the location of the missing fin.  Two (2) fish daily limit, 20-inch minimum size.  Anglers fishing for other fish species, where legal to do so are required to follow the same gear restrictions and night closures as steelhead anglers.  Night Closure and Selective Gear Rules are defined on pages 21 and 22 of the 2005/06 Fishing Rules pamphlet.  All steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. 

Information contacts:   Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist - Omak, (509) 826-7341,  Joe Miller, Region 2 Fish Program Manager - Ephrata (509) 754-6066.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

 

October 5-18, 2005
Contact: Craig Bartlett, (360) 902-2259
 

Hunting rifles will compete with clam guns,
fishing poles in the first weeks of autumn 
 

Some of Washington’s most popular hunting seasons will get under way Oct. 15, including the modern-firearms season for deer and those for ducks and geese.    

So far, prospects for opening day look good, said Dave Ware, game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  Another mild winter, combined with favorable breeding conditions, have helped sustain populations of both deer and waterfowl, he said.    

“Now all we need is some nasty weather,” said Ware, noting that wet, blustery conditions draw waterfowl closer to shore and dampen the sound of a hunter’s approach.  “Weather conditions are a big factor in hunters’ success.”    

Hunters must carry a valid 2005-06 hunting license for the species they are hunting.  For licensing information, see WDFW’s Big Game pamphlet , Migratory Waterfowl pamphlet or licensing website ( http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/  ).    

For those more comfortable with a clam gun than a hunting rifle, the first razor-clam dig of the fall season is also scheduled to begin Oct. 15, provided that a final marine-toxin test confirms the clams are safe to eat.    

If so, the first dig of the fall season will take place Oct. 15-17 at all five coastal razor-clam beaches, plus an additional day – Oct. 18 – at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks. See the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula regional report below for details on this and other digs scheduled through the end of the year.    

Anglers also have some new options to consider in the days ahead.  On the lower Columbia River, boat anglers averaged one legal-sized sturgeon for every three rods Oct. 1, when the three-day-per-week retention fishery got under way.  Several rivers feeding into Grays Harbor opened that day for salmon fishing, and the blackmouth fishery in Marine Area 10 off Seattle is set to start Oct. 16 – two weeks earlier than last year.    

For more information on these and other fisheries check the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500), the department’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ) or the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).    

For a regional overview of fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities coming up around the state in the weeks ahead, see the reports below.

North Puget Sound

 

Fishing: Typical fall weather, including rain and cooler temperatures, should improve fishing conditions in the region by bringing mint-bright, ocean-run coho salmon into the terminal marine areas. Lately, it’s been hit and miss, and anglers are still waiting for the 15- to-20-pound “hooknose” coho they’ve been hearing about, said Sue Kraemer, a WDFW fish checker. Some 108 coho were checked at the Everett ramp Oct. 1 and another 57 on Sunday, better than half a fish per boat. They averaged about 6 pounds, topping out at 12. There was no particular hot spot. “This is one of those fisheries that is good today and bad tomorrow,” Kraemer said. “Like I tell the fishermen, you definitely won’t catch anything if you don’t go out.”

 

A 6-month-long selective hatchery winter blackmouth fishery is under way in marine areas 8-1 and 8-2, but the action so far has been slow. The fishery, which began Oct. 1 and runs through the month of April, is patterned after the successful summer selective hatchery chinook fishery in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca. Anglers can retain up to two hatchery chinook per day, so long as the fish measure at least 22 inches in length. Wild chinook salmon, which have an intact adipose fin, cannot be brought aboard the boat. Only one blackmouth was checked during the Oct. 1-2 weekend, and it was just 24 inches long, Kraemer said. When they do show up, the place to be is at Racetrack, between Hat Island and Camano Head. Fishing has been slow in Marine Area 7, where anglers have a two-fish daily bag limit, one of which can be a chinook measuring at least 22 inches.

 

Saltwater-based anglers should expect to see a few chum salmon start to enter the catch statistics. Fall chum runs have been strong throughout much of Puget Sound in recent years, and the expected return this fall is no exception; more than 1.7 million chum are forecast to return to streams and hatcheries in Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Anglers who want to target chum in saltwater areas should try fishing a small herring or anchovy under a bobber. Chum will also hit artificial squid in bright green colors.

 

Recreational crab fishing in the San Juan Islands closed as scheduled on Sept. 30; shellfish managers are conducting a catch assessment to determine if enough crab remain for additional openings.

 

River-based anglers can’t catch a break. Drought conditions kept stream flows far below normal for most of the summer, which made the fish skittish and difficult to catch. Sustained rains over the final few days of September made many of the region’s rivers flow high and muddy – not ideal fishing conditions. Fishing should improve if the rivers continue to drop.

 

There is a four-fish daily limit on the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers; no more than a total of two may be coho and chum salmon. Release all chinook. Anglers on the Snohomish’s other main tributary, the Snoqualmie River, can retain two salmon per day, but all chinook and pink salmon must be released. The Skagit River, which is another stream that has yo-yoed in and out of shape recently, is open to salmon fishing from the mouth upstream to the confluence with the Cascade River. Anglers can keep two salmon measuring at least 12 inches in length per day. Release all chinook. “When things clear up, I expect there to be a lot of coho around,” said Brett Barkdull, another WSDF biologist, said of the Skagit. “The time is right and the fish were showing up just before the rainstorm, so I expect the lower river to have a bunch of fish.” There are a few chinook left, but they’re not in good shape after reaching the upper river, and some chum should begin sprinkling in soon, but a large run isn’t expected this year in the Skagit, Barkdull said.

 

The Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River will open Oct. 8 to fishing for all game fish, including hatchery steelhead. The affected area ranges from 1,500 feet upstream to 1,000 feet downstream of the Reiter Ponds Hatchery outlet.

 

Although the frenzy of pink salmon-fishing activity has slowed on the lower Duwamish-Green River, anglers can now fish for salmon all the way up to the South 277th Bridge in Auburn. Anglers on the Duwamish-Green River can retain up to six salmon per day, no more than three adults, and all chinook must be released. Salmon fishing on Lake Washington continues through October north of the 520 Bridge. Anglers can retain two coho per day, provided that the fish are at least 12 inches in length. The Lake Sammamish salmon fishery runs through November with a two-fish daily limit (minimum length 12 inches), and a requirement to release all sockeye. Lakes are still a little warm to bring out the trout, but conditions are right for yellow perch in Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, said Larry Tsunoda, WDFW biologist. Fish in the shallows, less than 30 feet deep, at Juanita Bay, along he east shoreline and off Mercer Island. The two lakes also should be “fair to middlin’” for largemouth and smallmouth bass, Tsunoda said. Patience is the name of the game this time of year. “Go out in the boat, anchor somewhere, turn on the Seahawks game and just plunk,” Tsunoda said.

 

Hunting: Muzzleloaders stalking deer and elk will have the field through Oct. 7 before making way for the general firearms season for deer that begins Oct. 15. After 10 years without a hard winter, populations of both deer and elk are healthy in most areas, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “We’re expecting fairly good success this year,” he said.

 

As part of WDFW’s ongoing effort to keep chronic wasting disease out of Washington state, Ware asks that hunters report any deer or elk they see in the field acting sick or behaving strangely. Hunters who see lethargic, underweight animals are asked to call the regional WDFW wildlife manager at (425) 775-1311 ext. 121.

 

General seasons will also get under way Oct. 15 for ducks and geese in goose management units throughout the north Puget Sound region. As usual, the best hunting during the early part of the season will be in bays and estuaries, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager. “The birds won’t really start moving inland until we get enough rain to produce sheetwater in the fields,” Kraege said. Hunters are advised to check WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game rule book ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm ) for information about bag limits and other regulations.

 

Meanwhile, hunting seasons continue for pheasant , grouse , California quail and bobwhite . For information about the WDFW pheasant release sites, see the Western Washington Pheasant Release pamphlet, which is available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/wwapheas.htm .

 

Wildlife viewing: One attraction of bird-watching is its serendipedis nature. Birders who set out looking for one species often spot something else entirely.  For example, a contributor to the Tweeters birdwatching website http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/digests/ recently stopped by Marymoor Park in Redmond to look for the clay-colored sparrow that has been spotted there in recent days. He didn’t see the sparrow, but did catch a view of a northern waterthrush in flight. Another birder went to Lincoln Park in Seattle looking for some warblers and a barred owl he’d spotted before, but instead saw two fox sparrows , a young golden crowned sparrow and four hermit thrushes . He also spotted an eared grebe near the waterfront. “This guy put on quite a show spinning, flapping, splashing and dancing,” he wrote. Not bad for a chance encounter.

 

Meanwhile, sightings of turkey vultures have increased throughout the region as the large birds continue to flock south from Canada. One Tweeters correspondent reported seeing 30 turkey vultures fly south over the southern tip of Vashon Island, while another counted about 50 kettling over Lummi Island in Whatcom County. Still another reported 23 turkey vultures headed toward Husky Stadium. “I guess they were looking for a thermal or a favorable wind to lift them over Capitol Hill,” he wrote. Other bills sighted at the Mountlake Fill include a pied-billed grebe , a double-crested cormorant , a great blue heron and lots of Canada geese , mallards and northern pintails .

 

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

 

Fishing: With salmon fishing moving in from the coast to area bays and rivers, anglers have a wide range of new options to consider, including trading in their fishing rods for clam shovels. The fall razor-clam season is tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 15, provided that test results show the clams are safe to eat. If the tests prove favorable, WDFW will proceed with a three-day dig Oct. 15-17 on evening tides at Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch. A fourth evening of digging is also scheduled Oct. 18 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks, where last year’s harvest fell short of the number of clams available. Subsequent digs tentatively planned in November and December will follow the same pattern. All five beaches are scheduled to open for evening digging Nov. 12-14 and Dec. 30-Jan. 1, with additional digging opportunities Nov. 15 and Jan. 2 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks. WDFW will confirm each opening approximately one week before when final test results are be available. Digging will be allowed between noon and midnight. Although fewer clams will be available for harvest coastwide than last season, WDFW Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres said the tides should provide a good year of digging. “Were especially pleased that we’ll be able to offer folks the opportunity to dig their way into the New Year, with the low tide on New Year’s Eve,” he said. Anyone age 15 or older is required to have a valid license, which includes any 2005 annual shellfish/seaweed license purchased last spring. A razor-clam-only license is also available in annual and three-day versions.

 

Anglers wanting a final shot at ocean salmon can head to LaPush, where a “bubble” fishery continues through Oct. 9. The two-week late season targets chinook salmon and hatchery coho returning to the Quillayute River system. In the past, fishing has been restricted to the area just outside the mouth of the river, but this year's "bubble" is wider and has no western boundary. There’s a two-fish limit, and both can be chinook. Opening day on Sept. 24 saw 74 anglers catch 15 chinook and 28 coho, said Scott Barbour, WDFW biologist. Be sure to check the forecast before setting out; the LaPush Last Chance Salmon Derby on Oct. 1-2 was canceled by bad weather.

 

Another option for salmon is Grays Harbor, which opened Sept. 16 and is beginning to heat up. Anglers have been landing about one coho per boat. The limit is two salmon. Chinook must be released, and regulations prohibit removing them entirely from the water except by anglers fishing from boats 30 feet or longer. Single-point barbless hooks are required. Willapa Bay, coming off perhaps its hottest month ever, continues to offer up a mix of chinook and coho. The daily limit is six. No more than two can be adults (24 inches for chinook; 20 inches for coho). Single-point barbless hooks are required. Good fishing in Grays Harbor bodes well for the Chehalis River, which flows into it. The Chehalis and several other westside rivers, including the Satsop, Wynoochee, Wishkah and Hoquiam, opened for salmon fishing Oct. 1. Grays Harbor, which includes the river from its mouth to the Highway 101 bridge, and the upper river from te Porter bridge to the Black River, offer a good combination outing for the small-boat angler. The river, besides being calm, accessible and scenic, should also hold some fish. “I’m guessing there should be some fish up there, and I guarantee you there will be some fishing effort up there,” Barbour said. “Either Grays Harbor or the Chehalis would be the place to be the next couple weeks, and there will be a lot of people there. There always is.” The limit on the rivers that opened Oct. 1 is six salmon, including no more than two adults. Adult chinook must be released. Fishing was slow on the Chehalis River on opening weekend, with about one fish being caught for every three anglers, “but the people who know what they’re doing have been catching some nice silvers,” bright 10- to 12-pounders, Barbour said. Bank anglers can get in on the action at Morrison Park in Aberdeen. Although the fish appeared more intent on getting up the newly opened rivers than eating, they should settle in pools and start biting in he next week or two, said Rick Ereth, another WDFW biologist. The lower Satsop and the Chehalis upstream from the mouth of the Satsop should also be good bets, Ereth said. Pools of coho will be surging up the rivers from now to January, Ereth said, and they should be joined in about three weeks by some chum salmon.

 

Coho have been making their way up the Puyallup River system for a while, along with a couple hundred thousand pink salmon and some chinook. The Dungeness River has historically offered good coho fishing once the rain starts falling, said WDFW Biologist Steve Thiesfeld. So has the Skokomish River. Those wanting to avoid the crowds might try the smaller streams of the Kitsap Peninsula, such as the Tahuya and Dewatto rivers. “The coho appear to be coming back close to what we forecast, but the people fishing for them have had a rough go of it so far,” Thiesfeld said. “The bright spot is there should be a lot of fish pushing up the rivers because of this rain.” Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) will open to blackmouth fishing Oct. 16, two weeks earlier than last year. The fishery will run through the end of January, a couple weeks longer than the previous season.

 

Lakes remain a little too warm to rouse trout, but anglers will have much better odds at three spots in Grays Harbor that recently received plants. Lake Aberdeen received 1,080 rainbows on Sept. 27, Vance Creek Pond #1 got 945 and Vance Creek Pond 2 took another 1,625. The ponds are near Elma. The fish are 8 to 12 inches long. Lake Aberdeen is open until Oct. 31 and the ponds until Nov. 30. Only juveniles, seniors and disabled persons can fish at Pond #1. The daily limit is five fish.   

Hunting: The crack of rifles and shotguns will be heard throughout the region Oct. 15, when hunting seasons for deer, ducks and geese get under way. Jack Smith, regional wildlife program manager, predicts good hunting for black-tailed bucks this year, particularly in lowland areas with lots of clearcuts. Meeting that description are the Wynoochee, Satsop, Skookumchuck, Capital Peak, Fall River and Williams Creek game management units. They include private timberlands that have been logged recently and are beginning to grow back, providing favorable habitat for deer. The black-tailed deer season for hunters using modern firearms runs through Oct. 31, followed by the elk season Nov. 5-13.

Duck hunting should be good in the shoreline areas of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. American wigeons will probably be the most common duck during the opener, followed by mallards and green-winged teal, Smith said. Generally, ducks stay near saltwater early in the season. After it has rained for a while and sheetwater is on the farmlands, they’ll move inland. Pintails are mixed with mallards and wigeons, which will require careful shooting. The same is true of goose hunting in Goose Management Area 2B (Grays Harbor and Pacific counties), where the concern is dusky geese. Dusky geese are off-limits to hunting, and hunters must carry an authorization card and meet other requirements specified in WDFW's Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet to take geese in that management area. Hunting in Goose Management Area 2B is permitted only on Saturdays and Wednesdays. In Goose Management Area 3, no special authorization is required to hunt for geese during the season that runs daily from Oct. 15-27, followed by a late season Nov. 5-Jan. 29. Rather hunt pheasant ? Hunters can choose from eight release sites throughout the region, identified in WDFW’s Western Washington Pheasant Release pamplet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/wwapheas.htm . )

Wildlife viewing: It’s hard to beat the elk rut for sheer excitement. If you haven't heard a bull elk bugle or clack antlers with a rival, the Quinault River valley upstream from Lake Quinault is a great place to observe this rite of fall. Several groups of elk are visible along the loop road along the South Shore and North Shore roads. Graves Creek Campground is an even better spot. The elk are most active during the early morning and evening hours. Observers should give the elk plenty of room, since they are easily disturbed and potentially dangerous. An alternative is Northwest Trek in Eatonville, where visitors can observe the spectacle from a safe distance. The wildlife park is at 11610 Trek Dr. East in Eatonville, about 35 miles east of Tacoma, on the road to Mount Rainier. Details: 360-832-6117 or at their website.

 

Salmon continue to make their way up streams to spawn. A great place to watch them is at Tumwater Falls in Olympia, where bright chinook splash over fish ladders along the Deschutes River.

Winged migrants are garnering a lot of attention from birdwatchers throughout the region, including one correspondent to the Tweeters Birding Network website ( http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/ ) who believes he spotted the first red knot ever recorded in Kitsap County on Sept. 29 at Foulweather Bluff Nature Preserve. Red knots are medium-sized shorebirds with short, straight bills and olive-yellow legs, according to the Seattle Audubon Society. They are gray and black except when they’re breeding, when their bellies are bright rufous. They breed mostly above the Arctic Circle and migrate through Washington. Bottle Beach and Bowerman Basin in Grays Harbor, around the perimeter of Willapa Bay and Leadbetter Point consistently have large flocks of red knots. In fall, the birds are seen in small numbers but not in the huge flocks of the spring.  

Southwest Washington

Fishing: With chinook retention now closed on the Columbia River from the mouth to Highway 395 bridge in Pasco, anglers are finding other ways to fill their coolers. A good bet is the sturgeon fishery that opened Oct. 1 from the Wauna power line near Cathlamet to Bonneville Dam, said Brad James, WDFW fish biologist. “October is when we traditionally see the highest catch rates for sturgeon in the Columbia River gorge below Bonneville Dam, although fishing should be good through the end of the year,” James said. The fishery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week. Sturgeon must be at least 42 inches and no more than 60 inches long to retain.  

On opening day, fish checkers counted 404 bank anglers with 151 legal sturgeon fishing just downstream of Bonneville Dam. Those anglers reported releasing 141 sub-legal fish and 32 oversized fish. The 103 boat anglers checked in that area averaged one legal sturgeon for every three rods and released 470 sub-legal fish and eight oversized fish. “Those are pretty good odds of catching a legal-sized fish,” James said. Success was slower for sturgeon anglers fishing further downstream to the Longview area.  Fish checkers counted 230 boat anglers with 19 legal sturgeon with another 445 sub-legal and one oversize sturgeon being released.   

Anglers fishing for salmon in several lower Columbia tributaries have also been doing fairly well – particularly in the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers. During the week ending Oct. 2, fish checkers found 57 anglers on the Cowlitz with 22 coho salmon , four chinook salmon and two steelhead . On the Lewis River, 33 anglers had 24 coho and three chinook. On the Elochoman, 12 anglers split six coho among them. “A lot of the early-stock coho are now dark, but more bright, late-run coho are arriving every day,” said Wolf Dammers, another WDFW biologist. He reminds anglers that coho fishing, including hatchery fish, will close Oct. 16 on the Kalama and Washougal rivers.   

The Cowlitz River has also been giving up some good-sized sea-run cutthroat trout , now returning to the Cowlitz Hatchery. Fishing has been good from Castle Rock to the barrier dam below the hatchery, Dammers said. "Keepers" must be at least 12 inches and have a clipped adipose fin. "These trout make for great eating," said Dammers, noting that the fish generally range from 12 to 15 inches long. The cutthroat fishery on the Cowlitz is featured in the October edition of WDFW’s “Wild About Washington” show, which airs on local access and government cable TV channels (check your local listings). Video clips from that show are also posted on the department’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/pubaffrs/wildwash/ ). Goose Lake near Carson is another good place to catch cutthroat right now, Dammers said. The lake was recently planted with 845 cutts, averaging 1.5 pounds each, with several thousand more to come, he said.   

Hunting: Muzzleloaders stalking deer and elk will have the field through Oct. 7 before making way for the general firearms season for deer that begins Oct. 15. After 10 years without a hard winter, populations of both deer and elk are healthy in most areas, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “We’re expecting some fairly good success this year,” he said.    

As part of WDFW’s ongoing effort to keep chronic wasting disease out of Washington state, Ware asks that hunters report any deer or elk they see in the field acting sick or behaving strangely. Hunters who see lethargic, underweight animals are asked to call (360) 906-6722.    

General seasons will also get under way Oct. 15 for ducks and geese in most areas of southwest Washington. The exception is Goose Management Area 2A (Wahiakum and Cowlitz counties, plus a portion of Clark County), where goose hunting will remain closed until Nov. 12 to protect dusky geese. To hunt geese in that area, hunters must first complete a goose-identification test offered at one of the sites noted in the WDFW Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm ). “This is a good time to complete that training if you want to hunt geese in area 2A,” Kraege said. As usual, hunting in other areas during the early part of the season will be best in bays and estuaries, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager. “The birds won’t really start moving inland until we get enough rain to produce sheetwater in the fields,” Kraege said. Hunters are advised to check the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for information about bag limits and other regulations. Meanwhile, hunting seasons continue for pheasant , grouse , California quail and bobwhite . For information about the WDFW pheasant release sites, see the Western Washington Pheasant Release pamphlet, which is available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/wwapheas.htm .  

Wildlife viewing: Two of the state's most majestic migratory bird species are now gathering in the lower Columbia River wetlands as fall migration shifts into high gear. WDFW biologists have spotted a number of great egrets in recent days at the Shillapoo Wildlife Area near Vancouver Lake, where they have also heard the unmistakable trumpeting ("garoo-a-a-a") of sandhill cranes . A correspondent for the Tweeters bird-watching website also reported seeing several egrets at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.   

Standing up to four feet tall with a wingspan of six feet, the gray-colored cranes are the larger of the two birds. But egrets, three feet tall with white plumage, also make quite an impression. In recent years, both species have been found in increasing numbers during the "fall roost" at the mouth of the Columbia, and a growing number are choosing to stay through the winter. Egrets and sandhill cranes are just two of the many species of birds that will be on display at BirdFest 2005, scheduled Oct. 15-16 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day at the refuge. Sponsored by the Friends of the Refuge, the festival features guided bird-walks, kayak trips and live bluegrass music. For more information, call (360) 887-9495 or check out the festival website ( http://www.plankhouse.org ).   

Eastern Washington

Fishing: Snake River steelhead action is picking up, reports WDFW fish biologist Joe Bumgarner. “Cooler weather has brought more fish into the system,” he said. “Recent dam counts of steelhead at Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite have increased to 2,000 to 4,000 fish per day. Rain will help get fish into the smaller tributaries. Expect the Tucannon and Walla Walla rivers to start producing more fish.” The best rate of catch during the last creel survey was on the Snake mainstem above the interstate bridge, where boat anglers averaged just over three hours per fish caught. The Grand Ronde River saw an average of four hours per fish caught. Stretches of the Snake below Ice Harbor dam, and from Lower Monumental to Little Goose dams, yielded an average of less than six hours of effort per fish caught. Steelheaders on the Walla Walla River spent almost 14 hours of fishing per fish caught, and from Ice Harbor to Lower Monumental they averaged over 16 hours of effort per fish caught.    

Cooler weather throughout the region also seems to be encouraging trout to bite at the lakes that remain open through the end of the month or year-round. One popular spot near Spokane with nice-sized rainbows and cutthroats is Amber Lake, southwest of Cheney, but anglers need to comply with the catch-and-release rule that went into effect there on the first of October. Check the fishing rules pamphlet carefully at this time of year to make sure the lake you’re heading for is still open or for regulation changes. Year-round Lake Roosevelt continues to produce rainbows and kokanee .    

Hunting: Quail and partridge hunting season opened Oct.1 and although no specific surveys are conducted, bird numbers appear to be very healthy. Hunters on WDFW’s Asotin Wildlife Area in Asotin County, where mountain quail were released this year to boost declining populations, are reminded that no mountain quail hunting is allowed. Moose hunting is also under way since Oct. 1 for nearly 100 special permit holders in several of the region’s northern game management units. Generally dry conditions seem to have moose holding in the thickest riparian or streamside cover.    

WDFW district wildlife biologist Steve Zender of Chewelah notes that there’s another opportunity to harvest a wild turkey from Oct. 8-14 in Game Mangement Units 105-124 where the split season was open for a week last month. “Turkey broods and small flocks are very visible in mornings and evenings along the edges of farm fields throughout Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties,” Zender said. “Since most of this is private land the primary difficulty is gaining permission to hunt.”   

The most popular hunting season opens in most of the region’s game management units Oct. 15: modern firearm deer , including many antlerless special permit hunts. Deer hunters should check the pamphlet for season ending dates and buck antler point restrictions by unit. Zender says mule deer populations and hunter harvest have increased throughout the northern units in recent years, and deer hunters can expect similar or even better success on mule deer this fall. “Whitetail deer fawn ratios were much improved last year – 68 fawns per 100 does in 2004 compared to 51 per 100 in 2003 – so there should be a good crop of yearling bucks available this fall,” he said. “The percentage of mature or five-point or better bucks has steadily increased each year, from a low of ten percent of harvested bucks in northeast Washington in 1999 to a high of 17 percent in 2004. We may have reached the peak but hunters can likely expect buck quality similar to the past couple of years.” Zender also noted that muzzleloader deer season has been in progress since the first of the month and hunters report seeing more deer than usual and good uccess on harvest. “The biggest factor has probably been the unusually cool, moist weather that makes for good hunting conditions,” he said.   

WDFW district wildlife biologist Pat Fowler of Walla Walla has a different deer hunting situation in the south end of the region. “We had low fawn survival in the winter of 2003-04,” Fowler said, “and that will produce limited success this season under the three-antler-point minimum regulation, since those fawns are this year’s two-year-olds. I think hunters will find deer hunting slower than in the past, and success will be lower.” 

Monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in harvested deer will be stepped up in the central district of the region, especially during the three days following the opener.  A new sampling station will be conducted in Colfax on Sunday, Oct. 16, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Chevron station at the junction of highways 195 and 26 at the north end of town. Any deer hunters traveling through are asked to stop so that biologists can take a couple of tissue samples to check for CWD, and also collect information about hunting effort, harvest, and deer body condition. Hunters can also bring the head of their harvested deer to the WDFW office at 2315 North Discovery Place in Spokane Valley (between Evergreen and Pines, off Mirabeau Parkway) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, October 17, and Tuesday, October 18. Heads should either be fresh, refrigerated, or frozen. In addition, deer hunters on WDFW’s Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County can bring their harvested animals throughout the season to the area headquarters where CWD samples will be taken. WDFW veterinarian Kristin Mansfield explained that although CWD is not expected to be found, samples are needed from other parts of te region to continue confirming Washington as CWD-free. For more information about CWD see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/cwd/factsheet.htm . WDFW district wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson of Spokane also noted that the new Colfax station will provide a better picture of hunting effort, both in time and distribution over local game management units, and hunting harvest, both in quantity and quality of deer taken.  “Over time this kind of data enables us to manage the best possible seasons for hunters and long-term deer populations, ” he said.   

Waterfowl hunting opens Oct. 15 but many traditionally good areas may be poor due to drought conditions. WDFW’s Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area manager Juli Anderson reported many dry lake beds and traditional watering holes. “This year's waterfowl hunting prospects look slim at Swanson Lakes,” she said, “unless precipitation starts picking up soon.”    

Wildlife viewing:   Local birdwatchers recently explored the Philleo Lake area near Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Spokane County and spotted a rare fall migrant this far west – an American golden plover . This little black-breasted shorebird breeds in northern Canada and the Arctic and winters in South America, but usually uses a Midwestern or eastern flyway for the fall migration. Birders also saw other migrants from the far north, including black-bellied plovers , long-billed dowitchers, pectoral sandpipers, Baird's sandpipers, and American pipits .  WDFW district wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson suggested keeping an eye out for colorful migrants as well as autumn leaf color, especially north of Spokane. For those looking for larger wildlife to view, Howard noted that moose continue to be seen “hanging out” at the Turnbull refuge.   

Northcentral Washington

Fishing: Summer chinook fishing continues until Oct. 15 on the Columbia from Brewster to Bridgeport.  “Over the first weekend of this month chinook fishing was good,” said Bob Jateff, fish biologist. “The largest fish taken weighed in at 28 pounds.” Jateff also reported that Okanogan County’s Big Green and Spectacle lakes are both open for trout fishing with no bag or size limits, to allow anglers to catch as much out before the lakes undergo rehabilitation treatments later this month.  Big Green will be open through Oct. 9 and Spectacle will be open through Oct. 16. “S ome of the lowland lakes in the district are still producing nice trout,” he said. “Big Twin near Winthrop has been good for 15 to 17-inch rainbows. Jameson Lake in Douglas County opened for a fall season on Oct. 1.  Fishing was good with the catch rate a bit low, but with the average size being higher than normal – 12 to 15 inches.”  WDFW fish biologist Matt Polacek reports that yellow perch fishing on Banks Lake has been great, with a catch rate of four fish per hour, and an average size of 10 inches.  Fishing has been good in the bays in the mid to north end of the lake, he said. 

Hunting:   There is good opportunity throughout the region for quail and partridge hunting, which opened Oct. 1.  WDFW regional wildlife biologist Matt Monda reports that bird numbers appear to be very good in most areas and harvest should be up relative to the last couple of years. The highest densities of quail are in the dry land portion of Grant County, but very huntable numbers are available at other locations including the irrigated parts of Grant and Adams counties and riparian areas of Chelan and Okanogan counties. Gray or Hungarian partridge look especially good in central Adams County where WDFW coordinates hunter access on both private and public land.   

Waterfowl hunting opens Oct. 15 and hunters can expect adequate number of ducks and geese in the Columbia Basin for a good hunt on opening weekend. Monda says the number of migrant mallards coming to the Basin is expected to be similar to previous years. “Duck hunting opportunity and success in the Basin is largely controlled by weather conditions,” he said. Local goose numbers are high. Up in the Okanogan district, waterfowl hunting but may be slow after opening weekend due to poor local production. Duck hunting should improve in November with the arrival of migrants.  Also opening on the Oct. 15 is Washington’s most popular hunting season – modern firearm deer.   “Deer hunters should find excellent hunting in Chelan County, “ Monda said, “because this herd has shown steady increases and high fawn survival and buck escapement for the past few years.  While availability of high elevation mule deer migrants will be largely determined by timing of snowfalls, resident deer at lower elevations have increased and will provide greater harvest opportunities.    

Hunters should also find plenty of deer in Douglas County, however with most of the land privately owned, obtaining access is key to a quality hunt. Good public land and walk-in hunting opportunities exist there too, but expect plenty of company from other hunters.” In the Okanogan District, Monda predicted that overall harvest will likely be similar to the last couple of years, “or perhaps a bit better due to favorable conditions.”  He recommended that hunters look for lots of deer movement late in the general season along ridges leading from the backcountry to the primary winter ranges in the Methow and Okanogan watersheds.  “In a nutshell, there should be good hunting conditions in the Okanogan with a small to significant increase in buck harvest over last year,” he said,  “depending on weather conditions late in the general season.”  In the Columbia Basin, the potential for a successful deer hunt is good, as deer numbers appear to be as high as any time in the past 20 years.  “Although deer occur on public land in the Basin,” Monda said, “most occupy private property, so I urge hunters to obtain permission for access well in advance of opening day of the season.”    

Wildlife viewing: If you’re too busy with fall cleanup around the homefront to make a wildlife viewing trip afield these day, bring the wildlife to you by setting up a backyard bird feeding station. At this time many migrant species are moving through the region and would welcome a feeding, watering, and resting stopover. If you’ve never set up bird feeders before, check out WDFW’s Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program information at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/ to get started with providing a variety of feed types in different feeder styles to attract the greatest diversity of birds. If you’re hauling out feeders that you took down early this spring, be sure they are clean and dry before filling them with fresh seed. In these dry conditions, it’s just as important to provide water for birds, either in a birdbath or just a pan of water set out. Consider placement of feed and water to avoid drawing birds too close to windows where they might have collisions, or too close to heavy cover where cats can ambush them.  Bird feeding stations, of course, are simply supplemental to preferred natural food sources.    

Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs, so be sure to include species that provide food and cover for birds and other wildlife. Just putting some of that fall yard clean-up on hold is a good way to leave some natural food sources for birds, like flower seed heads and leaf duff that hosts worms and bugs.  

Southcentral Washington

Fishing: WDFW’s most recent creel checks of chinook salmon and steelhead fishing on the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River show participation and catch rates are up, although still slow. Anglers averaged 17 hours of effort for every adult chinook caught. The Ringold and Vernita areas have been best. Low water levels make fishing difficult for most anglers, relayed WDFW fish biologist Jim Cummins, although the fish are in good shape for early October. The average size of Hanford Reach salmon or steelhead  is 15 to 25 pounds.

Cummins also reported that several Kittitas and Yakima county trout lakes were stocked with fall catchable-size fish at the end of September. These are rainbows that run about a third-pound apiece, plus some bigger surplus hatchery broodstock, he explained, so fishing success should pick up considerably. Here’s how many were stocked where: In Kittitas County, Easton Pond, 1000, Fio Rito Lake North, 3,000, Fio Rito Lake South, 500, Kiwanis Pond, 200, Mattoon Lake, 1,700, McCabe pond, 400. In Yakima County, Clear Lake, 3,050, Myron Lake, 500, Rotary lake, 1,500, Sarge Hubbard Pond, 300, Tim’s pond, 300.   

Hunting: Quail and partridge hunting opened on the first of the month and should be providing good opportunities for hunters throughout the region. Waterfowl hunting opens on Oct. 15, but the best hunting may be later in the season when northern migrants add to the locally-produced birds. The modern firearm deer hunting season that also opens Oct. 15 is mostly under a three-antler-point minimum for mule deer bucks, but hunters should check the regulations pamphlet for all details before going afield.    

Wildlife viewing: If you’re too busy with fall clean-up around the homefront to make a wildlife viewing trip afield these days, bring the wildlife to you by setting up a backyard bird feeding station. At this time many migrant species are moving through the region and would welcome a feeding, watering, and resting stopover. If you’ve never set up bird feeders before, check out WDFW’s Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program information at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/ to get started with providing a variety of feed types in different feeder styles to attract the greatest diversity of birds. If you’re hauling out feeders that you took down early this spring, be sure they are clean and dry before filling them with fresh seed. In these dry conditions, it’s just as important to provide water for birds, either in a birdbath or just a pan of water set out.   

Consider placement of feed and water to avoid drawing birds too close to windows where they might have collisions, or too close to heavy cover where cats can ambush them.  Bird feeding stations, of course, are simply supplemental to preferred natural food sources. Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs, so be sure to include species that provide food and cover for birds and other wildlife. Just putting some of that fall yard clean-up on hold is a good way to leave some natural food sources for birds, like flower seed heads and leaf duff that hosts worms and bugs.


 

October 5, 2005

Upper Columbia, Okanogan, Methow rivers
Will open for steelhead fishing

Action: Areas of the upper Columbia, Okanogan, and Methow rivers will open to recreational fishing targeting adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead.  The daily limit is two fish, 20-inch minimum size.  Rules affecting other species in these areas are changed to be consistent with steelhead rule requirements.

Effective dates:

1. Columbia River: October 8, 2005 through March 31, 2006, from Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport.

2. Okanogan River: - October 8, 2005 through March 31, 2006. EXCEPT:

    1. a section of the river from the Lake Osoyoos Control Dam (Zosel Dam) downstream to ¼ mile below the railroad trestle will remain closed.
    2. a section from Highway 97 Bridge at Omak to a line across the river 500 feet above the mouth of  Omak Creek will close March 1, 2006.

3. Methow River - October 8, 2005 through March 31, 2006.  EXCEPT:

    1. the area from the second power line crossing upstream of Highway 97 Bridge to the first Highway 153 Bridge north of Pateros will remain closed

Species affected: Steelhead, other game fish species and salmon

Location & Restrictions:

  1. Columbia River: From the Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport: Statewide gear rules for all fish species, night closure in effect, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. 
  2. Okanogan River from mouth upstream except closed waters from Lake Osoyoos Control   Dam (Zosel Dam) downstream to ¼ mile below the railroad trestle. The area from the Highway 97 Bridge at Omak to a line across the river 500 feet above the mouth of Omak Creek will close March 1, 2006.  Selective gear rules for all fish species, except it is lawful to fish from a floating device equipped with a motor. Night closure in effect and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. From the highway bridge at Malott upstream, closed to all species except adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead.
  3. Methow River - From the mouth (Highway 97 bridge) upstream to the confluence with the Chewuch (Chewack) River in Winthrop:  EXCEPT closed from the second powerline crossing upstream of the Highway 97 Bridge upstream to first Highway 153 Bridge north of Pateros: Selective gear rules, except it is lawful to fish from a floating device equipped with a motor, night closure in effect, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. 

Reason for action: The wild run returning to areas above Priest Rapids Dam is large enough to meet minimum spawning requirements. The recreational fishery will reduce the proportion of hatchery-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds, thereby minimizing impact to wild steelhead spawning in upper Columbia River tributaries.  This will increase the proportion of wild steelhead on the spawning grounds and improve natural production.

Other information:   The Similkameen River, from its mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam, will open to the harvest of adipose fin-clipped hatchery origin steelhead November 15, 2005 through March 31, 2006.  The Similkameen River fishery rules will be: selective gear rules, night closure, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

During the December 1 to March 31 whitefish seasons on the Methow and Similkameen rivers whitefish gear rules will not apply.

In corresponding areas open to salmon and other game fish, a night closure will be in effect.

In the areas open to steelhead fishing anglers are permitted to harvest hatchery origin steelhead with an adipose fin-clip and a healed scar in the location of the missing fin.  Two (2) fish daily limit, 20-inch minimum size.  Anglers fishing for other fish species, where legal to do so are required to follow the same gear restrictions and night closures as steelhead anglers.  Night Closure and Selective Gear Rules are defined on pages 21 and 22 of the 2005/06 Fishing Rules pamphlet.  All steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. 

Information contacts:   Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist - Omak, (509) 826-7341,  Joe Miller, Region 2 Fish Program Manager - Ephrata (509) 754-6066.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

 


 


October 6, 2005
Contact: Cindy LeFleur (360) 906-6708

Public meeting targets Columbia River fishing issues

OLYMPIA – Columbia River fish allocations will be the focus of a public meeting Oct. 12 in Vancouver, Wash., hosted by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife departments.

Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions will decide in December and January how to split up salmon and sturgeon between recreational and commercial interests for the next several years. Wednesday's meeting will allow people to learn about, and comment on, the issues. 

"We want to give the public a chance to be well informed and provide input before we go to the commission," said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "There are so many Columbia River issues, we wanted to wrap them all together."

Wednesday's public meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way. 

The Washington and Oregon commissions, citizen panels that establish policy for the fish and wildlife departments, will be briefed on the topics during a joint meeting Nov. 3. No public testimony will be taken at that meeting.

In early December, each commission will decide on commercial and recreational allocations for summer chinook salmon, fall chinook salmon and sturgeon. The Washington meeting will be Dec. 2-3 in Olympia.

In January, the commissions will approve allocations for spring chinook and consider wild winter steelhead impacts in Columbia River spring chinook fisheries. There will be public comment periods during the regular commission meetings.


September 30, 2005   
Contact: Susan Yeager, (360) 902-2267
or WDFW Public Affairs, (360) 902-2250

 

Fish and Wildlife Commission to hear
Puget Sound sport crab catch update

OLYMPIA—An update on this year’s effort to lengthen the Puget Sound recreational crabbing season by slowing catch rates will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets here Oct. 7-8.
 
The crab fishery update is one of several briefings the commission is scheduled to receive during the meeting, which begins at 8:30 a.m., both days, in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., in Olympia.
 
During the Oct. 8 session, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) shellfish managers will update commissioners on whether more restrictive crab fishery rules adopted earlier this year have been successful in slowing recreational catch rates. Catch information is based on telephone surveys of crab catch record card holders. The new restrictions were aimed at slowing sport harvest rates to potentially provide additional fall and winter fishing time. The new ruls closed crabbing in most marine areas at the end of the Labor Day weekend. Marine areas with remaining recreational crab allocations will be re-opened later this season.
 
State shellfish managers also are scheduled to update the commission on preliminary results of this year’s dock checks of recreational crab catch. The field-based creel checks at specific sites will be used to assess the reliability of catch estimates from the telephone surveys. Results of the validation assessment will be presented during the November 18-19 commission meeting.
 
The commission also is scheduled to hear reports on:

In other action, the commission is scheduled to adopt permanent rules for commercial harvest of non-cultured shellfish from non-state lands; set policies for the commercial coastal Dungeness crab fishery, including fishery buoy tag rules and a limited entry proposal; and set its 2006 meeting calendar.
 
The complete Oct. 7-8 meeting agenda may be viewed at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm


September 29, 2005   
Contact: Tiffany Hicks, (360) 902-2544
  

Beach owners’ cooperation
sought for forage fish surveys

OLYMPIA—The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is asking property owners to assist in a survey of Puget Sound forage fish spawning habitat by granting department biologists access to private beaches in Mason, Pierce, Kitsap and King counties.
 
The survey—scheduled over the next two years—is designed to gather information on forage fish spawning as part of the Puget Sound Action Team’s Forage Fish Project.  The shoreline survey will focus on the spawning habitat and activity of surf smelt and Pacific sand lance (candlefish) in central Puget Sound.
 
Both species spawn and incubate their eggs only on sandy-gravel beaches near the high tide during certain times of year.  The forage fish feed upon plankton communities and, in turn, are fed upon by larger predators such as salmon, marine mammals and seabirds.
 
“These two species, along with Pacific herring, are a critically important link in the Puget Sound marine food web, and learning more about their spawning activity is an essential part of the larger effort to preserve the Sound’s marine ecosystem,” said WDFW Habitat Biologist Dan Penttila. “We appreciate property owners’ cooperation in this important study.”
 
Each beach visit will take approximately five minutes, and will be conducted by a two-person WDFW crew, working in small boats at low tide. The beach surveys generally will be conducted between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, during estimated spawning seasons.
 
During each visit, biologists will collect a small sample of beach material, and record characteristics of the local shoreline.  Sampling activity generally occurs several yards laterally seaward of the mean high-tide line.
 
Private land owners who do not wish to grant beach access are asked to contact WDFW by Oct. 24 with their street address and, if possible, property boundary details such as latitudes/longitudes, a plat map or an aerial photo depicting non-permitted property properties. Access denials should be submitted to Tiffany Hicks, by calling (360) 902-2544, or by email to hickstlh@dfw.wa.gov . Survey workers also will immediately comply with property owners’ verbal requests to leave private beaches during the survey work.
 
In addition to the survey, WDFW invites waterfront landowners to submit information and observations on forage fish spawning activity. Information collected on documented forage fish spawning activity by specific sites or regions will be made available on a public database.
 
As part of the forage fish project, WDFW biologists are available to present study results and other information on forage fish to interested community groups.  To arrange for an informational presentation or to submit spawning activity data, contact Dan Penttila by calling (360) 466-4345, ext. 242, by emailing penttdep@dfw.wa.gov .
 
For general information about forage fish, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/forage/forage.htm on the WDFW website.

September 28, 2005

Chinook salmon limits modified in Marine Area 3

Action: LaPush late season daily limit liberalized to allow two chinook salmon

Effective dates: Sept. 28, 2005 through Oct. 9, 2005

Species affected: Chinook

Location: LaPush Late Season Area, which includes all waters of Marine Area 3 north of 47°50'00"N latitude and south of 48°00’00’’N latitude.

Reasons for action:   More angling opportunity can be provided while staying within the quota for chinook.

Other information:   Two salmon bag limit. Release wild coho. The minimum size for chinook is 24 inches; The minimum size for coho is 16 inches.

Information contact: Doug Milward, WDFW biologist, (360) 902-2739; Tim Flint, WDFW statewide salmon manager, 360-902-2728.  

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

September 28, 2005
Contact: Robin Ehlke, (360) 906-6752

Columbia River anglers must release chinook
downstream from Pasco starting Oct. 1, 2005

OLYMPIA – Starting Saturday (Oct. 1), anglers will be required to release any chinook salmon they catch on the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth to the U.S. Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The announcement follows an agreement between fisheries managers from Washington and Oregon to close two sections of the Columbia River where the sport fishery has taken its portion of the allowable impact on fall chinook salmon protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The two areas affected by that agreement extend from the mouth of the Columbia to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line – the so-called Buoy 10 fishery –and from Bonneville Dam upstream to the U.S. Highway 395 bridge in Pasco.  Both states had already ended chinook retention from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to Bonneville Dam as of Sept. 18.

“This year’s Columbia River fall chinook run is smaller than expected,” said Tim Flint, WDFW salmon manager. “That requires a corresponding reduction in allowable impacts on wild chinook salmon protected under the ESA.”

Through the third week in September, anglers had caught approximately 27,500 chinook salmon from the mouth of the Columbia River to the U.S. Highway 395 bridge.

The new chinook-release rules, which take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, do not affect fishing for other species of salmon or steelhead in the lower river, Flint said.  Fishing regulations for other salmon species are listed in the 2005-06 “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet , posted on WDFW’s website.


September 15, 2005

Rules change for eastern lakes
scheduled for rehabilitation

Action:   Remove daily bag limit (except for Annex Lakes and Shay Pond) and change season for game fish on lakes scheduled for rehabilitation.

Effective dates:   Effective Immediately

Species affected:   All game species

Location:

  • Okanogan County: Green Lake and Lower Green Lake, Spectacle Lake
  • Grant County: Warden Lake, South Warden Lake, Annex Lake #1, Annex Lake #2, Shay Pond, Quincy Lake, Burke Lake
  • Spectacle Lake (Okanogan County):   Effective immediately through October 16, 2005, no daily limit for game fish.  No daily size limit for game fish.  Closed to fishing October 17, 2005 until further notice.
  • Green Lake and Lower Green Lake (Okanogan County):   Effective immediately through October 9, 2005, no daily limit for game fish.  No daily size limit for game fish.  Special Rules:  Catch-and-release and selective gear rules are suspended.  Closed to fishing October 10, 2005 until further notice.
  • Warden Lake and South Warden Lake (Grant County):   Effective immediately through September 30, 2005, no daily limit for game fish.  No daily size limit for game fish. 
  • Annex Lake #1, Annex Lake #2, and Shay Pond (Grant County):   Statewide rules through September 30.  Closed October 1, 2005 until further notice.
  • Quincy Lake and Burke Lake (Grant County):   Effective immediately through October 9, 2005, open to fishing.  No daily limit for game fish.  No daily size limit for game fish.  Closed to fishing October 10, 2005 until further notice.

Reason for action:   These lakes are scheduled for rehabilitation utilizing rotenone. 

Information contact:

  • Joseph Miller, Regional Fish Manager, (509-754-4624)
  • Jeff Korth, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, (509-754-4624)
  • Bob Jateff, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, (509-826-7341)
Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

 

 

 
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