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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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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Anglers can keep two Chinook off Westport beginning Aug. 18

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Kirk Calkins and friends with a nice mixed bag of kings and silvers from Westport Saturday morning.

OLYMPIA – Starting Monday, Aug. 18, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days per week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Ron Warren, fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the previous daily limit of one chinook off Westport was designed to ensure the fishery would remain open the entire season.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the pace of catch in the area,” Warren said. “With sufficient quota remaining, we want to maximize the recreational fishing opportunity through the rest of the season.”

Ocean salmon fisheries are scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2 and through Sept. 21 in marine areas 3 and 4. However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_saltwater.j .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and catch guidelines, is available in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Tom Weaver with a beautiful Westport king salmon

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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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Bigger trout await anglers for Father’s Day weekend

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OLYMPIA – Fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 one-and-a half pound triploid rainbow trout in 20 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 14-15.

“This is the third straight year we’ve stocked triploid trout before Father’s Day,” said Chris Donley, inland fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “A fishing license is a great Father’s Day gift and catching these big fish will make for some wonderful memories.”

“Young people and fishing go together,” adds Donley. “Whether or not you can take your father, and whether or not you have a kid of your own, this Father’s Day weekend is a terrific time to catch a memory – and a huge trout.”

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

All of the lakes that will be stocked with 15 to 17 inch triploids before Father’s Day have good shore and boat access. More details on fishing locations are available at the Fish Washington website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/ .

The lakes by region and county, and the number of triploids that will be stocked, are as follows:

North Puget Sound Region:

King County: Green Lake, 1,500
Snohomish County: Blackmans Lake, 250; Gissburg Ponds (aka Twin Lakes), 250
Skagit County: Campbell Lake, 250
Whatcom County: Padden Lake, 250
Coastal/Olympic Peninsula Region:

Grays Harbor County: Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #2, 100
Jefferson County: Sandy Shore Lake, 150
Mason County: Mason Lake, 500
Pierce County: American Lake, 1,500
Thurston County: Clear Lake, 250; Hicks Lake, 250
Southwest Region:

Clark County: Horseshoe Lake, 250
Southcentral Region:

Kittitas County: Cooper Lake, 250
Yakima County: Clear Lake, 500
Northcentral Region:

Grant County: Park Lake, 400
Okanogan County: Alta Lake, 350; Conconully Reservoir, 750
Eastern Region:

Spokane County: West Medical Lake, 1,250; Williams Lake, 400
Pend Oreille County: Diamond Lake, 600
Hundreds of other Washington lakes have been stocked with millions of trout over the past year. Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/ .

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Washington and Oregon agree to add another month to lower Columbia Chinook season

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An improved outlook for the number of upriver spring Chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River prompted fishery managers from Oregon and Washington to reopen the recreational fishing season below Bonneville Dam for another month.

Spring Chinook fishing will reopen on the lower Columbia from Thursday, May 15 through Sunday, June 15 under rules adopted today during a joint state hearing of fish and wildlife officials from the two states.

The joint state action is based on a revised estimate of salmon returns issued on Monday by the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which adjusted its expected return of upriver Chinook to 224,000 fish, up from the previous estimate of a minimum 185,000 upriver fish.

“We’re pleased to see these additional fish moving into the Columbia, and the opportunity this creates to provide an extended period of recreational salmon fishing,” said John North, ODFW’s Columbia River Program manager. “This is the scenario we were hoping for and we’re glad to see it materialize.”

This is the fourth time this year that fishery managers have extended the spring Chinook season in response to updated information about fish passage and angler success rates. The most recent reopening took place May 9-10.

Under the rules approved at today’s hearing, the season opens to both boat and bank fishing from Tongue Point upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline. The bag limit is two adult adipose fin-clipped salmonids (salmon or steelhead) per day, of which only one may be a Chinook. Shad and adipose fin-clipped jack Chinook may also be kept. All sockeye salmon must be released unharmed.

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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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