Ocean salmon fishery opens July 1

OLYMPIA – Anglers can reel in salmon off the Washington coast beginning July 1, when the ocean sport fishery gets underway daily in all four marine areas.

This year’s sport fishing opportunities are mostly focused on chinook salmon, which are forecast to return at a rate slightly above the 10-year average, said Wendy Beeghley, an ocean salmon manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  Anglers can fish for chinook in all four marine areas.

“We expect a pretty good chinook fishery in the ocean this summer,” Beeghley said. “However, we’ve put restrictions in place in an effort to protect coho, which are forecast to return in low numbers.”

Only Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will be open for coho retention. Fishery managers have attributed the low number of returning coho to poor ocean conditions last year.

This year’s 18,900 coho quota is a significant reduction from the 150,800 fish quota in 2015 and the lowest coho quota since 1998. The recreational chinook catch quota this year is 35,000 fish, down from 64,000 in 2015.

Marine Area 1 is scheduled to close Aug. 31 while marine areas 2 (Westport), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) are scheduled to close Aug. 21. Fisheries may close sooner than scheduled if the quota is met. Throughout the summer, anglers can check WDFW’s webpage athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/ for updates on the ocean fishery.

In Marine Area 1, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 2 can retain one salmon daily. In marine areas 3 and 4, anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers will be required to release all coho salmon in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, but can keep hatchery coho in Marine Area 1.

Additional information on fishing regulations can be found in Washington’s Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

Snake River spring chinook fishery will get under way Sunday, April 19

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OLYMPIA – Two sections of the Snake River, below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco and below Lower Granite Dam, will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon Sunday, April 19. Two other sections of the river – below Little Goose Dam and Clarkston – will open Thursday, April 23.

Each section of the river is scheduled to be open three days per week. Waters below Ice Harbor Dam and below Lower Granite Dam are scheduled to be open Sunday through Tuesday each week, while the Little Goose Dam and Clarkston area sections will be open Thursday through Saturday each week.

All four sections will remain open until further notice.

Jeremy Trump, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the fishery will likely remain open from four to six weeks.

“We have a strong run-size forecast for Columbia River spring chinook this year, so we will likely be able to sustain fishing into late May,” Trump said.

The fishery will close when the Snake River harvest allocation is met or allowable impacts on wild stocks reach federal limits, he said.

The Columbia River forecast for 2015 totals 232,500 adult upriver spring chinook, including 140,800 Snake River fish, of which 95,500 are hatchery fish. By comparison, last year’s forecast anticipated a return of 125,000 Snake River spring chinook, with 82,800 hatchery fish.

The daily catch limit for open areas is six hatchery chinook – marked by a clipped adipose fin – of which no more than one may be an adult chinook salmon. Jacks are less than 24 inches long, and any chinook salmon measuring less than 12 inches must be released.

During these fisheries, possession limits will be increased to allow three daily limits of spring chinook salmon in fresh form.

In all areas, anglers are required to use barbless hooks, and must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery chinook salmon. All chinook with an adipose fin, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.

“Our ability to closely monitor this fishery, as required by federal permit, is due in large part to funds from the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement,” said Trump. “Without the monitoring, we wouldn’t be able to open this fishery.”

The endorsement, required of all anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River system (which includes the Snake River), costs $8.75; seniors and youth pay $7.10.

The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 19 are:

Below Ice Harbor: Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam.
Below Lower Granite Dam: Snake River from the south shore boat launch (Ilia Boat Launch) across to the mouth of Almota Creek upstream about four miles to the restricted fishing area below Lower Granite Dam.
The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 23 are:

Below Little Goose: Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river upstream from the mouth of the Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility).

Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the Washington/Idaho boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
Trump strongly encourages anglers to review the spring chinook fishing rule change, posted on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/

General fishing regulations for the Snake River, in effective through June 30, are available in the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ).

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Fish Black Friday for big rainbows stocked in six southwest Washington lakes

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is offering prospective anglers opportunities for tight lines rather than long lines on the day after Thanksgiving.

The “holiday specials” include thousands of large trout each averaging 15 to 16 inches and 1-1/4 pounds. Those fish will be stocked in six southwest Washington lakes in time for Black Friday, Nov. 28.

“Fishing is a fall and winter tradition for many Washington anglers,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager. “These fisheries offer a great excuse to skip the malls and enjoy a fun day out on the water with family and friends.”

The six southwest lakes scheduled to receive fish before Black Friday include:

Battleground Lake and Klineline Pond in Clark County
Kress Lake in Cowlitz County
Rowland Lake in Klickitat County
Fort Borst Park Pond and South Lewis County Park Pond in Lewis County
All those lakes will be closed to fishing Nov. 24-27, when they will be stocked with hefty trout from the Mossyrock and Goldendale fish hatcheries.

The Black Friday fishing opener is one of several fishing opportunities made available this fall thanks to the department’s extensive fish stocking efforts, said Donley. In total, WDFW has been stocking 47 western Washington lakes with some 340,000 catchable trout during the fall and winter seasons.

A list of lakes stocked and the department’s stocking plan is available for viewing at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/fall-into-fishing/ .

For up-to-date stocking information this fall, anglers should follow the department on Twitter or Facebook, accessible from http://wdfw.wa.gov , or see the department’s weekly catchable trout stocking report at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/ .

Anglers must have a current Washington freshwater fishing license valid through March 31, 2015, to participate in these events.

Licenses can be purchased online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov ; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license vendors across the state. For details on license vendor locations, visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ .

Most areas of Puget Sound reopen Oct. 1 for late-season crab fishing

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OLYMPIA – Most marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing Oct. 1, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The openings were approved by fishery managers after summer catch assessments by WDFW indicated more crab are available for harvest, said Rich Childers, shellfish manager for the department.

Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 at 8 a.m. include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 12 (Hood Canal), and 13 (South Puget Sound).

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.

Sport crabbing will not reopen at this time in marine areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton Area) and 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island).

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ .

All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season fishery must be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter cards – free to those with crab endorsements – are available at license vendors across the state.

Winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2015. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html .

 

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Curlew Lake produces Washington’s new Tiger Musky record (pending)

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Tiger Musky (Courtesy of the Spokesman Review)

David Hickman of Richland, Washington holds his 37-pound, 14-ounce (pending) Washington state record tiger musky he landed on Curlew Lake on July 25, 2014. The fish measured 50.375 inches long by 23.75 inches in girth. The fish was weighed on the certified scale at Anderson’s Grocery in Republic.

It easily exceeds the current state tiger musky record of 31.25 pounds caught in Western Washington’s Mayfield Lake on Sept. 22, 2001.

“The paperwork still needs two more signatures to make it official, but I think it’s safe to say that it will be the new state record,” Kent Mayer, a warmwater fisheries program biologist in Spokane, said Tuesday.

The tiger musky is a cross between two formidable predators — eggs produced by female muskellunge are fertilized in hatcheries with the milt of male northern pike. The resulting hybrid “tiger muskies” are sterile, enabling fish managers to stock them in small numbers as a trophy fishery without worry that they will reproduce out of control and gobble up other fisheries.

It’s illegal in Washington to catch and keep a tiger musky under 50 inches long. Anglers must know how to distinguish tiger muskies from northern pike, which are considered an invasive species in Washington.

Northern pike display horizontal rows of light-colored round to oval spots on a dark background.
Tiger muskies display irregular shaped dark colored vertical markings on a light background. Sides sometimes have alternating patterns of bars and spots on a light background but patterns NEVER resemble the spots of a northern pike.
Tiger musky anglers are a patient lot. Hickman, who says he’s pursued tiger muskies for years, said he’s used to making many casts for the occasional payoff. During the recent family vacation at the Ferry County lake, he said he’d landed and released only one other tiger musky — a 36-incher — and lost a second lunker perhaps in the 50-inch range at the boat.

His third tiger musky of the trip, the pending record, struck his white spinner bait on the ninth and final day of the vacation.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist in Pasco, said he measured Hickman’s tiger musky at 11 a.m. on July 28 after the fish had been kept on ice in the livewell of the angler’s boat all weekend.

Three days after being caught, the fish measured 38 pounds even on the agency’s unofficial scale, Hoffarth said.

The fish was reared at the Meseberg Hatchery in Franklin County near Ringold prior to release as a juvenile into Curlew Lake, said John Whalen, regional fisheries manager in Spokane.

Other facts:

Tiger muskies have been stocked for trophy fisheries in about 10 Idaho lakes and seven in Washington, including Silver, Newman and Curlew. Idaho’s state record tiger musky, 44.26 pounds, was caught Aug. 6, 2013, by Edward Kalinowski of New Meadows in Little Payette Lake. See the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife tips for catching tiger muskies here @ http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/Species/1207/

Sockeye salmon retention begins in Lake Osoyoos

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Action: Anglers will be able to retain adult sockeye salmon in Lake Osoyoos

Effective dates: July 11 through Oct. 15, 2014

Location: Lake Osoyoos south of the 49th parallel (US-Canadian border, which is marked with large fluorescent orange signs)

Species affected: Sockeye salmon

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Zosel Dam are predicted to be in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches. Daily limit is six sockeye salmon. Release all other salmon. Statewide freshwater gear rules apply. From July 11 through Aug. 31, 2014, anglers may fish with two poles with a Two-Pole endorsement. Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached.

Information contacts: Jeff Korth, Region Two Fish Program Manager, Ephrata, (509) 754-4624, ext 224 and Ryan Fortier, District Six Fish Biologist, Twisp (509) 997-0316.

OTHER ANGLER INFORMATION:

All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

Check the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_freshwater.j .

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Fishing heats up in July for Salmon, Steelhead and Dungeness Crab!

johns river 2013 wednesday

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Summer fishing seasons are now in full swing, requiring anglers to make some tough decisions about how to spend their time on the water. Salmon, steelhead, crab, as well as trout, bass and walleye – all are now available for harvest in various waters around the state.

But for thousands of anglers, nothing beats the thrill of reeling in a big, feisty salmon. Many are doing just that as waves of chinook move south along the Washington coast, then east into Puget Sound, coastal streams and the Columbia River.

“With strong salmon runs predicted for the Columbia River this year, ocean fishing is likely to remain productive through the summer,” said Wendy Beeghley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fisheries biologist for the coastal region.

Several marine areas of Puget Sound open to salmon fishing July 1, joining other salmon fisheries already in progress. Some westside rivers, including the Bogacheil, Calawah and Nisqually, also open for salmon fishing that day, and Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye salmon July 10.

Summer steelhead are another option – notably in the Columbia River and many of its tributaries – where 281,000 adult fish are expected to move upriver in the coming weeks. As always, anglers are required to release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in the fishery, which extends from the mouth of the Columbia to the Canadian Border.

Fishing regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available from sporting goods stores and posted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Rather catch some crab? All but one marine area in Puget Sound will be open for crab fishing beginning July 3. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 17 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia). See http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ for all crab-fishing rules.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in most WDFW forested areas

Upper section of Yakima River to open for hatchery spring chinook fishing May 17

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OLYMPIA – With the spring chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River just getting under way, a section of the river farther upstream will open to fishing May 17 from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

Spring chinook are now moving into the lower river in increasing numbers, and should provide fishing opportunities in the upper river when that area opens for fishing, said John Easterbrooks, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Easterbrooks noted that 502 adult spring chinook salmon had been counted at Prosser Dam as of May 7 – a large portion of which were wild fish, typically more numerous early in the run. The first chinook crossed Roza Dam 80 miles upriver on May 5.

In all, an estimated 3,350 adult hatchery spring chinook salmon are predicted to return to the Yakima River this year.

“The lion’s share of the catch generally comes from the upper river below Roza Dam, although we did expand fishing opportunity in the lower river this year,” Easterbrooks said.

He noted that this year’s rules add 2.4 miles of fishable water near the mouth of the Yakima River by moving the lower boundary of the fishery downriver from the Interstate 182 bridge to the Highway 240 bridge.

Anglers fishing the Yakima River have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook, identifiable by a clipped adipose fin. All wild salmon and steelhead must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water prior to release.

To participate in the fishery, anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, along with a valid fishing license. Revenues from the CRSSE will be used to fund fishery monitoring and law enforcement. Anglers also have the option of purchasing a “two-pole endorsement” and fishing with two poles.

Endorsement revenues will also be used to fund the third and final year of a hooking mortality study below Roza Dam. With assistance from the Yakama Nation, a WDFW research team plans to radio-tag up to 150 wild spring chinook that have been hooked, played and released.

“Anglers who hook a salmon may be approached by a scientific technician as they play the fish,” Easterbrooks said. “If it’s a wild salmon with an intact adipose fin, the technician will assist in unhooking and releasing the fish after tagging it. The technician will also record the amount of time the fish was played, the hooking location, the condition of the fish and other relevant data.”

The technicians will also be fishing for the study, and will release all fish they catch once the fish have been tagged.

“We would appreciate anglers’ cooperation as we work to refine estimates that play a key role in managing fisheries,” Easterbrooks said. “Accurate estimates of hooking mortality are especially important in fisheries where WDFW must avoid exceeding impact limits on listed salmon stocks prescribed in fishery permits issued by NOAA-Fisheries.”

Easterbrooks also asks for anglers’ cooperation in helping to maintain walk-in access to fishing areas on both sides of the river below Roza Dam. That access includes:

  • Passage across Roza Dam to the popular fishing area downstream from the railroad bridge boundary on the west bank.
  • The trail across private property accessed from the “Roza Cut” parking area at the top of the hill on the Yakima Canyon Hwy (SR 821), which is used by anglers to access fishing sites on the east river bank below the railroad bridge.

WDFW asks that anglers observe some basic rules established by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns Roza Dam:

  • Passage across the dam is limited to walk-in access to the stairway on the west bank of the river and only during the salmon fishery. Rules prohibit crossing the Roza Canal at the west end of the dam and using the railroad bridges over Roza Canal and the Yakima River to access the fishing areas on both banks. Anglers can access both sides of the river by walking under the bridge next to the abutments to access the fishing areas downstream.
  • Anglers are asked to park in the designated areas on the right side of the Roza Dam Access Road, not on private property on the left side of the road.
  • Trash dumpsters have been placed in parking areas at the Roza Cut and Roza Dam Access Road, and next to the Roza adult fish trapping facility. Anglers are asked to carry a trash bag and deposit their trash – along with any they find along the trail – in the dumpsters.
  • Anglers are also asked to use the three portable toilets provided at the Roza Cut and access road parking areas and on the dam near the west bank stairway.

“Public access across Roza Dam and adjacent private property is a privilege, not a right,” Easterbrooks said. “We’re asking anglers to do everything they can to make sure these two critical access points remain open for their use. Any damage or misuse of federal or private property could result in termination of the privilege for everyone during this year’s fishery and could reduce access to this important salmon fishing area in future years.”

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