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Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. A Seattle native, Mark is a lifelong angler who grew up near the banks of Lake Washington, and has been covering fishing and outdoors for more than 18 years for The Seattle Times. Read his regular fishing report every Thursday, and the outdoor notebook every Sunday.

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June 30, 2009 4:29 PM

Washington to benefit from marine and coastal restoration fund signed by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has earmarked funds to 50 habitat restoration projects along coastal and Great Lake states, including six in Washington that will repair damaged wetlands, clean marine habitat, clear debris in Puget Sound and restore fish passages blocked by dams.

The funding comes Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was provided $167 million for marine and coastal habitat restoration.

"These Recovery Act projects will put Americans to work while restoring our coasts and combating climate change," Locke said in a news release. "They reflect our investment in sound science and commitment to help strengthen local economies."

The release pointed out that these areas of recovery generate more than 28 million jobs in the country. Commercial and recreational fishing employs 1.5 million people and contributes $111 billion to the nation's economy.

A big number of these projects [in 22 states and two territories] are in places with some of the highest unemployment rates, including California, Oregon and Michigan.

The projects will employ people such as laborers, nursery workers, design engineers, restoration ecologists, landscape architects, hydrologists and specialized botanists.

Many other indirect jobs will also benefit from these projects.

Nationwide this work is expected to restore more than 8,900 acres of habitat and removed obsolete and unsafe dams that open more than 700 stream miles where fish migrate and spawn.

The projects will also remove more than 850 metric tons of debris, rebuild oyster and other shellfish habitat and reduce threats to 11,750 acres of coral reefs.

The 50 projects were chosen from a pool of 814 proposals totaling more than $3 billion in requests.

The agency worked through a rigorous selection process to identify and prioritize projects meeting the Recovery Act's criteria.

Areas in Washington that will benefit from the funding include:

Elwha River Floodplain Restoration near Port Angeles: $2 million - In conjunction with the Elwha Dam removal, this project restores 82 acres of the floodplain of the lower Elwha River through the removal of dikes and culverts, re-vegetation and invasive species control.

Removal of Derelict Fishing Gear in Puget Sound: $4.5 million -Removes over 200 metric tons of marine debris, including over 3,000 net removals, and restore 600 acres of habitat.

Smuggler's Slough Nooksack River Restoration in Bellingham: $1.7 million - Raises a roadway and reconnects tidal exchange for 493 acres of Smuggler's Slough channel that will flow to restored salt marsh and eelgrass habitat in Lummi Bay. Seven miles of slough habitat will also be opened as a result of this project.

Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration in Marysville: $2 million - Restores 350 acres of wetland and 16 stream miles to fish passage for several species of salmon on the lower Snohomish River and its surrounding tidal floodplain by removing levees, excavating channels and planting native vegetation and trees.

Fisher Slough Marsh Restoration in Burlington: $5.2 million - Restores 60 acres of the Skagit River floodplain by replacing antiquated agriculture floodgates and restoring 15 miles of high quality habitat for chum, coho, threatened chinook salmon and other important species.

Hansen Creek Floodplain Restoration in Milltown: $988,000 - Excavates and reconnects 140 acres of forested floodplain habitat and install woody debris for chum, coho, threatened chinook salmon, and other important species.

For more details, go to the NOAA Recovery Web site.

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June 30, 2009 1:54 PM

Latest fish tales from the Columbia River, and area lakes and tributaries

Posted by Mark Yuasa


I am out of the office today, but wanted to make sure everyone is up to date on the fish reports from the Columbia River region. So here is the reports that biologist Joe Hymer with the state Fish and Wildlife office in Vancouver has released:

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River - Spring Chinook continue to be caught by bank anglers at the barrier dam while boat anglers are catching steelhead around the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 20 spring Chinook adults, 13 jacks, and 112 summer-run steelhead during five days of adult fish collection efforts at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the week Tacoma Power employees released two spring Chinook adults and 12 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.

Cowlitz River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,120 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 29. Water visibility is ten feet.

Wind River and Drano Lake - Today (June 30) is the last day to fish for spring Chinook.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam - Last week we sampled 1,461 bank anglers with 99 adult and 22 jack Chinook, 37 sockeye, and 47 steelhead. We also sampled 605 boat anglers (256 boats) with 62 adult and 6 jack Chinook, 2 sockeye, and 12 steelhead. Success was best on the opener and slowed as the week progressed.

Through June 28, an estimated 16,771 angler trips have produced 1,360 adult Chinook kept and 419 released plus 873 sockeye kept and 57 released. Adult Chinook may be retained on the lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam through July 5.

Effort was high last Saturday with 711 boats and 614 WA and 343 OR bank anglers counted.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met yesterday and downgraded the adult summer Chinook run size from the pre-season forecast of 70,700 to 58,000 fish. However, TAC did not change the sockeye pre-season forecast of 183,200.

John Day Pool - WDFW staff interviewed 41 salmonid anglers in the John Day Pool. Anglers reported harvesting 3 hatchery jack chinook and released 2 hatchery origin adult chinook and 1 wild adult chinook.

Bonneville Dam upstream - Adult Chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) may be retained beginning tomorrow (July 1).

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines - Charter boat anglers averaged just over a legal kept per every other rod while private boaters averaged one per every 5.7 rods. Bank anglers were catching a few legals. About one-third of the fish caught were keeper size. Overall success was better earlier in the week.

Just over 500 private boats and 20 charters were counted during the Saturday June 27 flight. White sturgeon retention is scheduled to re-open July 2-5.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Marker #85 - Boat anglers from Woodland to Vancouver are catching some legals. Fishing from the bank is slow.

One hundred sixty boats were counted during last Saturday's flight. Just over half were found in the gorge.

Walleye and Bass

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam - The few boats sampled in the Camas/Washougal area had no catch.

John Day Pool - Boat anglers averaged just over a bass and 0.5 walleye kept per rod.

Shad

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam - Effort, catch, and dam counts are declining. Bank anglers from Camas/Washougal upstream and boat anglers from Vancouver upstream averaged about a shad per rod. 42 WA and 33 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday's flight. Less than 6,000 shad had been counted daily at Bonneville Dam the past few days.

John Day Pool - Boat anglers averaged over 4 shad kept/released per rod. Bank anglers averaged over 1.5 fish per rod.

Trout

Mayfield and Riffe lakes - Bank anglers are catching some rainbows at Mayfield and primarily landlocked coho at Riffe.

Swofford Pond - Bank anglers are catching some bluegills.

Tacoma Power continues to release catchable size rainbow trout in the Cowlitz River area. Last week trout from the Nisqually Trout Farms were stocked into Skate Creek near Packwood and into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. On June 23, WDFW planted 474 half-pound rainbows into Forlorn Lake # 1 and another 474 fish in Forlorn Lake #2 in Skamania County.

The Goldendale Hatchery planted 200 excess broodstock rainbow into Takhlakh Lake today. They are about 3 pounds apiece.

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June 30, 2009 9:07 AM

Columbia River sockeye returns still strong, and Lake Washington sockeye figures show no surprises

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The Columbia River sockeye return remains fairly strong for the second year in a row.

"It continues to rumble on, and there are still some sockeye being caught in the lower river," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Widlife biologist. "Our forecast is pretty close to prediction [183,200 sockeye] and that is looking good."

The single day count at Bonneville Dam on June 27 was 11,404 sockeye; June 28 it was 10,114; and June 29 another 8,882 were tallied. So far this summer, 134,970 sockeye have been counted at Bonneville, and 55,737 sockeye have been counted at McNary Dam.

The Lake Washington sockeye watch also continues, but this summer's return won't generate what has been one of the most popular summer sport salmon fisheries in the Seattle area in past years.

The pre-season forecast for Lake Washington sockeye is 19,300, and well below the spawning escapement goal of 350,000.

The estimate is based primarily upon fry production from the spawning adult sockeye in 2005 and 2006. Since lake and marine survival rates are highly variable from year to year, the actual return this summer could be higher or lower.

On June 28, 864 sockeye were counted at the Ballard Locks fish ladder viewing window, on June 27, 712 more fish had passed up, and on June 26, 546 were seen. The biggest single-day count was on June 22 when 1,126 were counted.

At this point 10,279 sockeye have been counted at the locks since the tracking began on June 12.

The last time Lake Washington had a sockeye sport fishery was in 2006, which generated the largest catch since 1996.

In 2006, the sockeye run was estimated at 472,000, leaving a surplus of 122,000 for harvest, of which 59,000 were caught by sport anglers. The surplus was split between sport and tribal anglers.

Sport anglers made about 63,800 trips and averaged just under one sockeye (0.93) per rod. The fishery was open for 18 days -- the most days of fishing since 1996, when sport anglers caught about 70,000 sockeye over 23 days.

Other years when sufficient adult sockeye returns created sport fisheries in the lake was 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004.

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June 29, 2009 3:10 PM

Wind plays into ocean salmon fishing success, but the fish are plentiful on the pasture

Posted by Mark Yuasa

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For now Mother Nature and this high pressure building off our coast has gotten the best of the coastal salmon fishing season since it opened this past weekend,

But, once this passes anglers can be assured that plenty of action lies in the ocean all summer long.

"Wind: Great for windmills, but not always so great for catching fish," said Mark Cedergreen, president of the Westport Charterboat Association. "Westport's opener was pretty decent considering the strong northwest wind that spanned most of the late morning and afternoon. Some boats caught their limits of salmon. Some caught around a fish per person. The difference being the "hardiness" of the anglers on board. When the weather quiets down in a day or so we should be experiencing some great fishing."

At Westport on Sunday, state Fish and Wildlife samplers said the overall average was 0.85 fish per person with 263 coho and 57 chinook checked in, plus a couple of pinks.

"It was blustery on Sunday, and today it was even a little worse on the ocean with 10 foot swells and 2 to 3 feet of wind chop," said Larry Giese with the Westport Charterboat Association. "As soon as this weather calms down we should have some slam bang fishing."

Down south at Ilwaco, nobody got out on Monday except for one charter boat that limited, but Sunday's opener was very good.

"We had limits of some really nice coho, and the fish appeared to be about 2 pounds than they should for this time of the year," said Butch Smith, president of the Ilwaco Charter Association. "There is baitfish as far as you can see, and there appeared to be a lot of coho and a few chinook. We ran about 8 to 10 miles out."

Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who got back today (June 29) from Ilwaco reported that on Sunday the average was 1.8 fish per rod with 240 coho and seven chinook checked.

"The fishing seemed to be pretty easy for them at Ilwaco on Sunday, although weather was also issue on Sunday and today (June 29) too," Beeghly said. "The coho averaged about 3 to 5 pounds. I think it will be good once the weather clams down."

To the north at La Push and Neah Bay, fishing on Saturday was pretty good but by Sunday the weather started to make it tough.

"At La Push they averaged 1.75 fish per person, and the fish were everywhere from Cake Rock on out," said Scott Barbour, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

At La Push, state Fish and Wildlife checked 102 anglers with 165 coho and seven chinook. The coho averaged 5 to 6 pounds.

On northern most tip of the coast at Neah Bay, anglers found plenty of coho and a few chinook.

The ramp checks showed 223 anglers with 117 coho, 51 chinook and nine pinks. The coho were somewhat smaller averaging 3 to 4 pounds.

"Guys who did the best were out at Table Top where you couldn't keep the coho off, and those who did better on chinook were right off the green can at Waadah Island right at daylight," Barbour said. "The biggest king I saw was 28 pounds."

Barbour says there are a lot of fish in both Areas 3 and 4, but maybe not a ton in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just yet.

"It is looking good up north, and I except it to only get better," Barbour said. "I talked with some guys who fished up in Canada for halibut and they said the coho were really thick."

The ocean sport quota is 176,400 hatchery coho and 20,500 chinook, compared to last season's 20,000 coho and 20,000 chinook.

Westport is open Sundays to Thursdays, then open daily starting July 24. Ilwaco is open daily for salmon. Neah Bay and La Push are open Tuesdays to Saturdays only, and then open daily starting July 18.

Westport, Neah Bay and La Push will close Sept. 20 or until the quota is achieved. Ilwaco will close Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved.

The daily limit off the coast will be two salmon of which only one may be a chinook. Neah Bay will also have a bonus bag limit of two pink salmon, and Westport will get an additional one pink in the daily limit.

(Photo courtesy of the Westport Charterboat Association)

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June 29, 2009 10:44 AM

Where they're biting, where they're not

Posted by Mark Yuasa

This is an interactive map that shows the best and worst places to cast a line in Washington state. It's usually updated on Mondays and Thursdays.


View Larger Map

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June 27, 2009 10:04 PM

Neil Russell of Nampa, Idaho wins the FLW Series Western Division Tournament

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Neil Russell of Nampa, Idaho narrowly won the FLW Series National Guard Western Division Tournament today on the Columbia River in Umatilla, Oregon.

Russell caught a five-bass limit weighing 10 pounds, 9 ounces with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 47-10.

Russell just edged Cody King of Island City, Ore., who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 47-5.

Russell started the tournament in 10th place Wednesday with five bass weighing 12-4. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 10-0 and advanced to seventh place. He then caught five bass weighing 14-13 Friday to make the top-ten cut in first place.

Russell won $105,576, and King earned $40,288. Rounding out the top five pros are Ron Mace of Kennewick (20 bass, 46-7, $32,230); Marc Lippincott of Spokane (20 bass, 45-7, $24,173) and Joseph Caporuscio of Coto De Caza, Calif. (20 bass, 45-6, $16,115).

King caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Pro Division Friday - a 5-pound, 9-ounce bass - that earned him the day's Big Bass award of $283.

Overall there were 48 bass weighing 93 pounds, 6 ounces caught by 10 pros Saturday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.

Gary Haraguchi of Brentwood, Calif., won the co-angler division and $14,025 Friday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 29 pounds even followed by Patrick Touey of Nipomo, Calif., in second place with 15 bass weighing 25-7 worth $7,013.

Other top five co-anglers are Toby Farkas of Woodland, Calif. (15 bass, 24-13, $5,259); Sunny Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah (13 bass, 24-0, $3,506) and Chad Leblanc of Sutter, Calif. (14 bass, 23-13, $2,805).

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June 26, 2009 9:09 PM

Word on the Lower Columbia sport sturgeon fishery

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Sturgeon fishing remained good in the Lower Columbia River estuary this past week, and the fishery remains open through June 28, and then reopens July 2-5.

Last week, 395 boats with 1,302 anglers kept 272 legal-sized white sturgeon, and released 11 green sturgeon, 24 oversize sturgeon, and 829 sub-legal sturgeon. Plus, 32 charter boat anglers caught eight legal-sized white sturgeon and released 26 sub-legal sturgeon.

Here is data released by state Fish and Wildlife on June 25 on the sturgeon fishery in the Lower Columbia River below the Wauna power lines:

Based on the 2006-2009 Joint State agreement and catch during 2006 through 2008, a total of 15,529 fish are available for 2009 fisheries below Wauna power lines.

An estimated 1,125 white sturgeon were kept during January through May, which is about 67 percent of the cumulative catches through May in both 2007 and 2008.

Catch rates in June started out slow, but have improved as the season has progressed, having averaged 212 fish per day during June 1-7, 352 fish per day during June 8-14, and 415 fish per day during June 15-21.

Oregon-side anglers accounted for 86 percent of the June 1-7 non-charter harvest, 77 percent of the June 8-14 non-charter harvest, and 71 percent of the June 15-21 non-charter harvest.

Based on preliminary fishery sampling results, catch during June 1-21 is estimated at 6,875 fish, bringing the year-to-date total to about 8,000 fish, leaving a balance of about 7,530 fish for the remainder of 2009.

Catch rates can improve quickly in June and July, making it difficult to make accurate catch projections for the remainder of the scheduled season. Catch in this fishery during late June and early July averaged 644 fish per day in 2007 and 504 fish per day in 2008.

The projected balance provides for an average catch of about 684 fish per day for the 11 days remaining in the scheduled season.

Staff will continue to monitor the fishery and will provide another update next week.

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June 25, 2009 4:04 PM

Non-tribal commercial trollers report coho numbers off the charts in the ocean

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Those chomping at the bit for the sport ocean salmon fishing opener this weekend will like this news I got passed along by Tony Floor, the director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.

Steve Watrous, a sport fishing advocate/representative for the Lower Columbia River and ocean area out of Ilwaco received an e-mail today from a nontribal troller friend that said the salmon are massing in the ocean off the Washington coast right now.

This is what they said: Trollers out of Neah Bay and LaPush didn't bother to fish this last opener as the coho are so thick they couldn't get their gear through them. As a matter of fact [Washington nontribal troller] Geoff LeBon indicated that the coho were from the surface to the bottom. Already many 6-plus pounders.

The ocean sport quota is 176,400 hatchery coho and 20,500 chinook, compared to last season's 20,000 coho and 20,000 chinook.

Westport will be open Sundays to Thursdays beginning June 28, then is open daily starting July 24. Ilwaco is open daily for salmon starting Sunday, June 28. Neah Bay and La Push will be open Tuesdays to Saturdays only beginning Saturday, June 27, and then is open daily starting July 18.

Westport, Neah Bay and La Push will close Sept. 20 or until the quota is achieved. Ilwaco will close Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved.

The daily limit off the coast will be two salmon of which only one may be a chinook. Neah Bay will also have a bonus bag limit of two pink salmon, and Westport will get an additional one pink in the daily limit.

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June 25, 2009 1:39 PM

Ron Hobbs Jr. of Orting still holds lead in the FLW Western Division Bass Tourney

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Pro angler Ron Hobbs Jr. of Orting continues to hold the lead on the second day of the FLW Series National Guard Western Division Tournament being held today through Saturday on the Columbia River in Umatilla, Oregon.

Hobbs Jr. caught three bass weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces today for a two-day catch of eight bass weighing 25-10.

"I wish I hadn't stumbled that hard," Hobbs said in an FLW news release, who has won more than $108,000 in FLW Outdoors events. "I wish I could have caught a limit. I got five bites today. I saw a ton of fish and a ton of big ones. There's plenty of fish in the area.

"Things could have gone the other way and I could have had 17 pounds," Hobbs added. "It was a matter of two bites. If I would have set the hook two more times and hooked up, you would have seen another 15 pounds at least."

Just like the first day of competition, Hobbs said he locked through and made another 75-mile one-way run to the fish.

Hobbs said he's fishing a drop-shot rig in 3 to 5 feet of clear water with a Sniper Lures Snub, which is a 4 1/2-inch soft plastic bait.

"I'm there, I just have to catch them," Hobbs said. "I just hope for no wind so I can make the run again."

Hobbs' overall weight equaled that of second-place pro Joseph Caporuscio of Coto De Caza, Calif., who managed to haul in a total of 10 bass weighing 25-10 during the first two days of competition, but tournament rules state the tie is broken by the angler with the largest day's weight.

Hobbs' day one weight was 17-11 and larger than Caporuscio's day one or day two weights.

Other top finishers are: 3, Ron Mace of Kennewick (10 bass, 25-0); 4, Marc Lippincott of Spokane (10 bass, 24-6); and 5, Bobby Barrack of Oakley, Calif. (10 bass, 22-15).

Kyle Maughs of Willits, Calif., took the day's $283 Big Bass award in the Pro Division with a 2-pound, 10-ounce bass.

Overall there were 350 bass weighing 581 pounds, 7 ounces caught by pros Thursday. The catch included 52 five-bass limits.

Gary Haraguchi of Brentwood, Calif., still leads the co-angler division with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 20-5, and Chad Leblanc of Sutter, Calif., holds second place with 10 bass weighing 18-6.

Other top co-anglers are: 3, Taylor Parsons of Sutter Creek, Calif. (10 bass, 17-7); 4, John Thompson of El Granada, Calif. (nine bass, 17-2) and 5, Toby Farkas of Woodland, Calif. (10 bass, 16-11).

Paul Aznarez of Las Vegas, Nev., was paid $189 for the Big Bass award in the co-angler division with a 4-pound, 11-ounce bass he caught with pro David Kromm of Kennewick.

Overall there were 258 bass weighing 394 pounds even caught by co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 28 five-bass limits.

The event is held at the Umatilla Marina and RV Park, 1710 Quincy in Umatilla. Anglers leave the start at 6:30 a.m. each day. Thursday and Friday's weigh-in will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Walmart Store, 1350 North 1st St. in Hermiston, Ore., beginning at 4 p.m.

Children can enjoy the Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday's weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Walmart. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Series competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.

For more information go to the FLW Outdoors Web site.

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June 24, 2009 5:47 PM

FLW bass competition comes to the Columbia River this week

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Some of the big stars of the bass fishing world have converged to the FLW Series National Guard Western Division Tournament being held today through Saturday on the Columbia River in Umatilla, Oregon.

Orting pro angler Ron Hobbs Jr. holds the top spot on the day one leader board with five bass totaling 17 pounds, 11 ounces.

Hobbs holds a slight edge over Joseph Caporuscio of Coto De Caza, Calif., who weighed in five bass weighing 13 pounds, 12 ounces.

"I just kind of went all out today," Hobbs said in an FLW news release, who is fishing in his third year of FLW Series competition. "I heard it's going to blow tomorrow, and if the wind blows it's going to be a son of a gun fishing where I'm fishing tomorrow."

Hobbs said he locked through and made a 75-mile one-way run to his spot. Hobbs had just a mere two hours to catch his fish.

"I caught all of those fish in an hour," Hobbs said. "It was bam-bam-bam. Then I left. I also stopped at a couple of spots and tried to prefish a couple of spots. If the wind comes up, I don't know if I can do it again. It will add another half hour to my run."

Hobbs said he found his fish on the last day of practice. He said he's fishing 3 to 5 feet of clear water and can see every fish he casts to.

"A couple are on beds, but most aren't," Hobbs said. "I'd see them and they'd eat (the bait). It's as easy as that."

Hobbs said he caught most of his fish on a Sniper Lures Snub, which is a 4 1/2-inch soft plastic bait. He also caught two fish on a weightless soft-plastic stickbait he drifted through current.

Other finishers are: Marc Lippincott of Spokane (five bass, 13-11); Cody King of Island City, Ore. (five bass, 13-8) and Cody Meyer of Redding, Calif., and Ken Wick of Star, Idaho (both with five bass, 13-6).

Wade Headrick of Draper, Utah, earned the day's $283 Big Bass award in the Pro Division with a 5 pound bass.

Overall there were 386 bass weighing 699 pounds, 15 ounces caught by pros Wednesday. The catch included 63 five-bass limits.

Gary Haraguchi of Brentwood, Calif., leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 11-15, and John Thompson of El Granada, Calif., in second place with five bass weighing 10-13.

Other co-anglers on the leader board are Scott Burke of Oakdale, Calif. (five bass, 9-11); Chad Leblanc of Sutter, Calif. (five bass, 9-3) and Robert Flowers of Roy (five bass, 8-4).

Thompson earned $189 for the Big Bass award in the co-angler division with a 3-pound, 11-ounce bass.

Overall there were 275 bass weighing 409 pounds, 13 ounces caught by co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 31 five-bass limits.

The event is held at the Umatilla Marina and RV Park, 1710 Quincy in Umatilla. Anglers leave the start at 6:30 a.m. each day. Thursday and Friday's weigh-in will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Walmart Store, 1350 North 1st St. in Hermiston, Ore., beginning at 4 p.m.

Children can enjoy the Family Fun Zone prior to Saturday's weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. at Walmart. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Series competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.

For more information go to the FLW Outdoors Web site.

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June 24, 2009 4:52 PM

Another halibut opener at Westport to coincide with the start of the summer salmon season

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Anglers will get a chance to double dip off the south central coast at Westport (Marine Catch Area 2) for salmon and halibut on Sunday, June 28 only.

State Fish and Wildlife reports that enough halibut remains in the sport catch quota to allow the area to reopen for one-day only.

"Anglers look forward to the coastal salmon season, and this year is especially enticing given the large numbers of hatchery coho forecast to return," Kirt Hughes, a state Fish and WIldlife regional manager said in a news release. "Now, with another day's worth of halibut on the salmon opener, anglers could go home with both species."

Those planning a trip to Sekiu (Marine Catch Area 5) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca will also get a chance to catch halibut and salmon on July 2 and 3. Salmon fishing alone opens on July 1.

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June 24, 2009 2:40 PM

Lake Washington sockeye returning

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The early Lake Washington sockeye continue to return at a fairly good clip, considering that it was expected to be a poor run.

The pre-season forecast for Lake Washington sockeye is 19,300, and well below the spawning escapement goal of 350,000.

On June 22, 1,126 sockeye were counted at the Ballard Locks fish ladder viewing window, and on June 23, 867 more fish had passed up.

So far, 7,057 sockeye have been counted at the locks since the tracking began on June 12.

While this summer's return is highly unlikely to generate any type of fishing, biologists are hopeful enough will return to boost furture returns.

The last time Lake Washington has a sockeye sport fishery was in 2006, which generated the largest catch since 1996.

In 2006, the sockeye run was estimated at 472,000, leaving a surplus of 122,000 for harvest to be caught by sport and tribal fishermen.

Other years when sufficient adult sockeye returns created sport fisheries in the lake was 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004.

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June 22, 2009 1:41 PM

Hunting for one of the world's largest shellfish right here in Puget Sound

Posted by Mark Yuasa

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With his head nearly buried in sand and saltwater, Victor Mizumori of Redmond was hunched over inside a custom made stainless steel canister with his hands on one of the world's largest bivalve buried in 4 feet of sand.

After several minutes of prying the geoduck (pronounced goo-e-duck) loose from the sand it probably has inhabited for eons Mizumori emerged from the canister with a jubilant smile and lifted the 4 pound creature into the air.

This was our annual trip up to Whidbey Island at a beach I cannot name for the sake of secrecy among my fellow shellfish aficionados or else face banishment from the group.

This past weekend, it was Father's Day and well this is how us dads like to yuck it up, by getting down and under the sand, and a little dirty with Mother Nature so to speak.

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I had missed the early part of the trip on Saturday with my family and friends because of an event in town, but got the report on how they did via cellphone as we waited in line for the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry.

"We got five geoducks, and they [my brother-in-law] got four, but we only dug for about two hours," said Victor, who has this technique down to a science.

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Then this past Sunday, I got my chance at going after the geoduck, which is one of the oldest and live as long as 140 years, and can weigh as big as 10 pounds.

The night before involved a little more happy hour than I had anticipated so getting up for most of my group was a chore, although I awoke on Father's Day morning at 7 a.m. and had breakfast made for the others who had a little more trouble getting up.

We got the three phone calls from Victor wondering what was taking us so long so quickly we shoved the food down and carted all the gear into our cars and headed for the beach two hours before low tide.

Just getting to the beach takes a lot of effort and gear [two custom made garbage can-sized stainless steel cylinders, thick wooden planks, dollies with wheels, shovels, small and large plastic buckets].

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After pulling all our gear about half a mile onto the sandy flats we started the exploration, which was to look for shows, the brownish tip of the geoduck's neck poking out of the sand. This often takes some nohow in that you need to not confuse them for their brother the less sought after horse clam.

Mike Mizumori immediately found the first few shows and marked them. You could see where the tip of the neck was sticking out just above the sand or others that had disappeared, leaving a depression in the wet muck.

Now for the hard work.

We started to dig with a shovel around the depression and the geoduck's neck immediately retreated into the sand below.

Then two of us began to shove the cylinder that resembled a hollowed-out garbage can.

The wall of the cylinder surrounds the clam and prevents wet sand or mud from collapsing inward.

Continue reading this post ...


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June 22, 2009 9:52 AM

Where they're biting, where they're not

Posted by Mark Yuasa

This is an interactive map that shows the best and worst places to cast a line in Washington state. It's usually updated on Mondays and Thursdays.


View Larger Map

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June 21, 2009 7:20 PM

Huge low tides are worth checking out right now

Posted by Mark Yuasa


I spent the weekend up at Whidbey Island, and just got back this evening from a successful Father's Day trip.

I'll fill everyone in on how the geoduck hunt went tomorrow morning, and post pictures.

Just a reminder that the lowest tide of the summer is coming up on Tuesday a minus-4.1 footer at 11:45 a.m.

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June 21, 2009 6:16 PM

PSA Lake Washington Chapter Trout Derby a success

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The Second Annual Lake Washington Trout Derby was held by the Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington on June 13, and not only was the weather great but the fish managed to bite some anglers line too.

The weather was near-perfect and the fish were reasonably cooperative, with all
entries being cutthroat trout.

First place went to Richard McIntosh, Jr. with a two pound, 13 ounce cutthroat, which earned him $400.

Second place went to David Doperalski with a two pound, six ounce cutthroat, and Jon Calvo took third place, also with a two pound, six ouncefish checked in later than David's.

Frank Shaver took the hidden weight category with a one pound, eight ounce cutthroat.

The awards ceremony was held at Renton's Gene Coulon Park. All fish were caught trolling using a variety of gear, including spinners and a variety of baits towed behind small dodgers, Pop Gear, Flash Lites and Sling Blades.

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June 19, 2009 10:00 AM

State's top bass anglers compete in first step on the way to the coveted Bassmaster Classic in 2011

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Some of the best Washington bass anglers competed at Banks Lake in eastern Washington on June 13-14 with a chance to reach the historic Bassmaster Classic 2011 being held in New Orleans on Feb. 18-20.

The smallmouth fishing was good on the first day for the BASS State Team Competition, then slowed on the second. The lake also gave up a few largemouth bass.

The field of 48 anglers are vying to make a 12 angler state team that will compete at the next level in 2010.

Anglers are divided into boater and non-boater categories. The top eight boaters and top four non-boaters (minimum) make the state team.

After two outings Moses Lake's Erin Echternkamp leads the field with finishes of first place on day one, and third on day two. Second in the season standings is Jeff Boyer of Auburn with a fifth, and second place finish. Coming in third was Tony Lind of Auburn who placed second and eighth over the weekend.

Fourth and fifth place in the standings went to Mitch Ratchford of Kennewick, and Jeremy Percifield respectively also from the Tri-Cities.

In the non-boater category Spokane's Heather Stiegelmeyer, age 22 of Spokane is tied in the top spot with 17-year-old Justin Sprengal from the Tri-Cities.

Steigelmeyer is also the only woman to fish this series. Her finishes 25th on the first day, and seventh on day two put her in a prime spot to make the state team in the non-boater category. She would be the first woman to make the state team since the new BASS organization was developed several years ago.

On Aug. 22, 23 the field will finish the competition with two one-day tournaments at Lake Sammamish.

Top boater category standings after two tournaments: 1, Erin Echtencamp, Moses Lake, 398 points; 2, Jeff Boyer, Auburn, 395; tied for 3 and 4, Tony Lind, Auburn, 392 and Mitch Ratchford, Kennewick, 392; 5, Jeramy Percifield, Tri-Cities, 391; Chris Lambert, Tacoma, 389; tied 7 and 8, Joey Nania, 387 and Ken Day, Kennewick, 387.

Top non-boater category standings after two tournaments: Tied 1 and 2, Heather Stiegelmeyer, Spokane and Justin Sprengal, Tri-Cities, 371; 3, Zac Shaff, Richland, 363; 4, Mike Whitlow, Kennewick, 360.

The ESPN Web site reports that the Bassmaster Classic will return to New Orleans for the fourth time. In 2011, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation will host daily weigh-ins at the New Orleans Arena, while the Classic Outdoors Expo will be held at the Louisiana Superdome.

"The City of New Orleans has a long-standing reputation as a favorite destination city for major sporting events, and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation has a history of hosting these world class events that include Super Bowls, Final Fours, and most recently, the NBA All Star Weekend," said Sam Joffray, vice president, communications, for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation in an ESPN release.

"We are proud to include previous Bassmaster Classics in that list, and even more proud to announce BASS' return in 2011," Joffray said. "Since Hurricane Katrina, our event partners have played a key role in spearheading the recovery effort of New Orleans. Make no mistake about it, Louisiana remains a Sportsman's Paradise."

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June 18, 2009 12:56 PM

Lake Washington sockeye returning, but sport fishery is highly unlikely

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The Lake Washington sockeye watch has started, and while a summer sport fishery is doubtful all are hopeful that their return will be better than predicted.

"Right now it is tracking a little higher than last year," Mike Mahovlich, a Muckelshoot tribal biologist said in an email. "Let's hope it continues on this same pattern."

The pre-season forecast for Lake Washington sockeye is 19,300, and well below the spawning escapement goal of 350,000.

The estimate is based primarily upon fry production from the spawning adult sockeye in 2005 and 2006. Since lake and marine survival rates are highly variable from year to year, the actual return this summer could be higher or lower.

On June 14, 475 sockeye were counted at the Ballard Locks fish ladder viewing window, and on June 15, 628 more fish had passed up.

So far, 2,425 sockeye have been counted at the locks since the tracking began on June 12.

The last time Lake Washington has a sockeye sport fishery was in 2006, which generated the largest catch since 1996, and was a big moneymaker for the sport-fishing industry and other related businesses.

In 2006, the sockeye run was estimated at 472,000, leaving a surplus of 122,000 for harvest, of which 59,000 were caught by sport anglers.

The surplus was split between sport and tribal anglers.

Sport anglers made about 63,800 trips and averaged just under one sockeye (0.93) per rod. The fishery was open for 18 days -- the most days of fishing since 1996, when sport anglers caught about 70,000 sockeye over 23 days.

With the purchase of gear, fuel and other angler essentials, coupled with the ripple effect of those out-of-pocket expenses, state Fish and Wildlife estimates the 2006 sockeye fishery provided about $8.6 million in economic benefits to the area.

Other years when sufficient adult sockeye returns created sport fisheries in the lake was 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004.

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June 17, 2009 7:39 PM

Columbia River sockeye counts rising

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The Columbia River sockeye salmon are migrating into the mighty river, and while some fish are being caught in the lower sections, many are waiting to see if Lake Wenatchee will open later this summer.

"The sockeye run is tracking slightly below last year, and the forecast [183,200 this year] is slightly below what actually returned last year [214,500]," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver.

So far, 21,748 have returned up Bonneville Dam this year compared to 30,223 last year, and the 10-year average is 10,732.

On June 14, the single day count at Bonneville was 3,283 sockeye; and June 15 it climbed to 4,017; and by June 15 it had soared to 5,440.

"The peak of the run is in the next couple of weeks at Bonneville," Hymer said.

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June 16, 2009 5:10 PM

The latest bite on the Columbia River and tributaries

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Here are fishing results from this past week in the Columbia River and its tributaries:

SALMON AND STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River - Bank anglers near the barrier dam are catching some spring Chinook while boat anglers around Blue Creek are catching some summer run steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 109 spring Chinook adults, 60 jacks, and 73 summer-run steelhead during five days of adult fish collection efforts at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 38 spring Chinook adults and 46 into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge and two spring Chinook adults and one jack into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.

Cowlitz River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 7,960 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 15. Water visibility is over seven feet.

Kalama River - No report on steelhead angling success. Through June 10, a total of 180 hatchery and 37 wild summer run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Kalama spring Chinook adult returns continue to be below the hatchery escapement goal. Through June 10, just 60 of the 500 fish needed for brood stock had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Lewis River - No report on steelhead angling success. Through today, nearly 600 hatchery summer run steelhead had returned to the Merwin Dam trap. Eighteen adult spring Chinook were in the trap today resulting in just under 1,000 fish for the season. Up to 1,250 fish are needed to fulfill the program needs.

Washougal River - Anglers are reported to be doing well for steelhead, in particular for "recycled" fish. Through June 10, a total of 442 hatchery steelhead had been recycled downstream.

Wind River - Bank anglers in the gorge and upper river continue to catch some spring Chinook but effort has dropped to almost nothing. Through today (Monday June 15), a total of 1,699 adults had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery. The goal of 1,200 fish has been met.

Drano Lake - Light effort and no catch observed.

Klickitat River - Bank anglers continue to catch a mix of spring Chinook and summer run steelhead. The river up to the salmon hatchery is now open for hatchery adult Chinook retention.

Mainstem Columbia - Pretty heavy effort over the weekend and catches were good on the opener but have since slowed. Overall, bank anglers from I-5 downstream averaged a salmonid kept/released per every 6.8 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. Slower for boat anglers. Most of the catch were summer run steelhead followed by adult and jack Chinook (adults had to be released) and sockeye.

Effective today (June 16), the mainstem Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco will be open to fishing for Chinook jacks (adipose fin clipped or not), hatchery steelhead, and sockeye. From June 22 through July 5, adult summer Chinook may be retained below Bonneville Dam and beginning July 1 from Bonneville Dam upstream.

During the Saturday June 13 flight, a total of 333 WA and 241 bank anglers were counted from the I-5 Bridge downstream.

Lower Columbia flows have dropped over the past week. Through Sunday (June14), the average flows at Bonneville Dam were 250,000 cfs. Less than a week ago, flows had been in the 350,000 cfs range. Flows are expected to remain lower for at least the next week and a half.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna power lines - Boat anglers sampled at the Deep River ramp averaged a legal kept per about every 5 rods. Bank anglers were catching a few legals.

Data from the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco should be available by Wednesday.

Effort was high during the past weekend with almost 700 private boats and a couple dozen charters counted during the Saturday June 13 flight. It should be noted there was a sturgeon derby in Chinook that day.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna power lines to Marker 85 - Boat anglers in the Longview area are finding some keepers as are bank anglers in Woodland.

TROUT

Tacoma Power continues to release catchable rainbow trout in the Cowlitz River area. Last week trout from the Nisqually Trout Farms were stocked into Skate Creek and into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, Washington.

Swofford Pond and Mayfield Lake - Bank anglers are catching some rainbows.

Riffe Lake - Bank anglers are catching landlocked coho and steelhead.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam - Boat anglers in the Kalama and gorge areas averaged nearly 3 shad per rod. Bank anglers in the Camas/Washougal area averaged just over a fish per rod.

Through June 14, over a million shad had been counted at Bonneville Dam. In comparison, just over a third of a million fish had been tallied by this time last year.

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June 15, 2009 3:56 PM

Where they're biting, where they're not

Posted by Mark Yuasa

This is an interactive map that shows the best and worst places to cast a line in Washington state. It's usually updated on Mondays and Thursdays.


View Larger Map

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June 15, 2009 9:34 AM

Study on Snohomish River system chinook begins this week

Posted by Mark Yuasa


More eyes will be paying attention to chinook salmon migrating into the Snohomish River system this summer, and anglers are also asked to do their part in the study program.

A study aimed at improving management of federally protected chinook salmon begins this week, when state Fish and Wildlife biologists expand efforts to monitor and track chinook returns to the Snohomish River basin.

Biologists will be capturing, marking and releasing chinook in the Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers as the fish make their way upriver to the spawning grounds.

Survey crews will then document the marked salmon found on the spawning grounds and caught in the sport fishery, as well as those fish that return to the Wallace River Hatchery and Sunset Falls fishway.

Information from the study will be used to assess the accuracy of traditional methods of estimating chinook returns, Pete Hahn, a state Fish and Wildlife fish stock assessment specialist in charge of the study said in a news release.

"Having accurate population information is a vital part of fisheries management," Hahn said. "This study will help us improve estimates of chinook salmon abundance in the Snohomish River basin."

Crews will be capturing salmon -- primarily with two soft-meshed beach seine nets -- Mondays and Thursdays of each week through mid-October. The fish will be fitted with a visible anchor tag and implanted with a small "PIT" (passive integrated transponder) tag, both of which provide information on the background of each individual salmon.

Anglers who catch a tagged salmon are asked to call biologist Michael Mizell at 360-902-2740, and provide the tag number and information on when and where the fish was caught. Anglers who are releasing salmon are asked to leave the anchor tag in the fish.

People who find a tagged salmon carcass also are asked to leave the tag in the fish and report the tag number to Mizell.

State and tribal crews will be surveying the basin's spawning areas beginning in September. The crews will be tallying salmon carcasses and cataloging information from the fish equipped with tags.

Hahn said information collected by survey teams will allow state fisheries to make a population estimate, which will be compared to other estimates made by counting salmon spawning nests, known as redds. Crews count redds by helicopter and by floating the spawning grounds in rafts.

Between 5 and 10 percent of the fish caught also will be fitted with small radio transmitters that are inserted into the stomach. The transmitters, which have a thin, flexible antenna extending from the salmon's mouth, send out a constant signal that state fisheries crews can track as the fish move upstream to spawn.

"The radio transmitters will let us follow the movements of individual salmon, giving us a better understanding of where these fish go, where they hold before they spawn and what rivers and tributaries they end up in," Hahn said.

Anglers who catch and keep a hatchery salmon fitted with a radio transmitter also are asked to contact Mizell.

Funding for the study is provided by the Pacific Salmon Commission. The commission oversees the Pacific Salmon Treaty, which defines how the U.S. and Canada conduct salmon fisheries.

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June 14, 2009 9:18 AM

Free Jimmy Green Memorial Fly Fishing Expo coming to Monroe on June 20

Posted by Mark Yuasa

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Fly Anglers of all abilities should head to the free Jimmy Green Memorial Fly Fishing Fair and Casting Expo 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 20 at Lake Tye, 14964 Fryelands Blvd. in Monroe.

Meet and talk to the owners of local Puget Sound fly shops; learn to cast a fly rod; get involved in protecting local waters and fish; meet fly-fishing guides; find a fly-fishing club near your home; attend seminars in Fly-fishing 101; Lake Fly Fishing, River Fly Fishing; Puget Sound Fly Fishing; and there will be a casting competition for single and two-handed rods.

There will be free food and drinks, including coffee and doughnuts as well as hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments for lunch.

Folks can also try their luck in two raffles, one for fly-fishermen who bring potential fly fishermen to the event, the more you bring, the more tickets you get, and another for new potential fly fishermen only.

For details visit the Fly-fishing Expo Web site.

(Photo taken by Mark Harrison, Seattle Times staff photographer)

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June 13, 2009 1:22 PM

Special fishing event July 11 for children with disabilities

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Here is a wonderful way to get children with disabilities hooked on fishing during a special event July 11 at Merwin Fish Hatchery east of Woodland.

The Merwin Special Kids Day is expected to draw more than 100 participants and their families, which is sponsored by state Fish and Wildlife, Pacific Power and C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation.

The wheelchair-accessible hatchery waters will be planted with up to 5,000 trout ranging in size from one to four pounds. Volunteers will serve as one-on-one fishing coaches, assisting youngsters throughout the day.

Rods, reels, tackle and T-shirts will be provided for the young fishermen to use and keep. A free barbecue lunch will be served, followed by fish painting, a casting contest and other activities.

Instituted in 1999, the annual fishing event draws youngsters from the Vancouver School for the Blind, Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Emanuel Legacy, Kaiser Kids and Shriners hospitals, but sponsors encourage anyone with a special-needs child to join in the fun.

Preregistration for the event is required by June 30. To sign up a participating child or to volunteer, call toll-free 800-899-4421.

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June 12, 2009 1:27 PM

Upper Klickitat River opens for hatchery spring chinook fishing

Posted by Mark Yuasa


More salmon fishing opportunities begin tomorrow (June 13) as the Upper Klickitat River opens for hatchery adult spring chinook

Anglers may keep up to two hatchery adult spring chinook as part of the salmon daily limit on the Klickitat River upstream to boundary markers below the salmon hatchery.

This affects the fishing area of Klickitat River from 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway (located about one-half mile upstream from the Fisher Hill Bridge) to the boundary markers below Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.

The Klickitat Salmon Hatchery is expected to meet its escapement goal.

The daily limit is six salmon of which no more than two may be adults. Wild chinook must be released. This will match rules already in effect below Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 2 miles upstream from the mouth).

Anglers are reminded there are closed waters from Fisher Hill Bridge to 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway and from the boundary markers below Klickitat Salmon Hatchery to the boundary markers just upstream of the hatchery. The section upstream from the salmon hatchery remains closed to fishing for salmon.

Beginning August 1, the Klickitat River will revert to fall salmon regulations.

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June 12, 2009 10:10 AM

Entiat River opens for spring chinook fishing

Posted by Mark Yuasa


If the Icicle River isn't putting out any spring chinook, head to the Entiat River in Chelan County which opened today (June 12) for spring chinook salmon fishing.

Fishing is open today (June 12) through June 30 from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River, upstream approximately six miles to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery fish ladder entrance.

The daily limit is two salmon with a minimum size of 12 inches.

State Fish and Wildlife estimates about 2,000 hatchery-origin spring chinook and approximately 145 to 160 natural-origin spring chinook are expected to return to the Entiat River.

State Fish and Wildlife believes a selective fishery to remove excess, nonendemic hatchery spring chinook is warranted.

The Entiat River spring chinook fishery will be regulated as a selective fishery requiring the use of barbless hooks, anti-snagging rules, night closure, and mandatory release of adipose present chinook and all steelhead.

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June 11, 2009 12:26 PM

More fishing opportunity in the Lower Columbia River begins tomorrow

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The official word came out today, and the sport fishery for hatchery steelhead on the Lower Columbia River will open tomorrow (June 12).

Anglers will be able to catch a hatchery steelhead, along with sockeye salmon and hatchery jack chinook from Rocky Point up to the I-5 Bridge.

Beginning June 16, anglers may retain any jack chinook (marked or unmarked) but must release any adult chinook they catch until June 22, when the Columbia River opens for summer chinook fishing below Bonneville Dam.

Fishing rules, both before and after June 16, are described in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.

"We would have liked to give anglers more of a spring fishery," Bill Tweit, a state Fish and Wildlife Columbia River policy leader said in a news release. "But only now, when most spring chinook have passed Bonneville Dam, are fishery managers feeling confident that we can meet state and federal conservation goals."

The steelhead fishery which was supposed to have reopened on May 16 has been shutdown in order to protect a lower than expected spring chinook return.

Spring chinook fisheries were cut short throughout the Columbia River, but fishery managers were still concerned about impacts on wild spring chinook caught and released in the steelhead fishery.

"We conduct these fisheries under strict federal limits on incidental mortality rates," Tweit said. "When the run size is lower than expected, there is very little margin for error."

The forecast called for 298,000 upriver spring chinook to return to the Columbia River this year. The latest forecast, issued June 8, anticipates a return of 165,000 fish -- up 5,000 from the previous estimate.

"That small increase helped tip the balance to provide these four days of fishing," Tweit said.

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June 11, 2009 10:36 AM

Sekiu Halibut Derby is this weekend

Posted by Mark Yuasa

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The Sekiu Halibut Derby is this Saturday and Sunday (June 12-13), and fishing has been decent in recent days.

"Halibut fishing has been real good, and even with the minus tides [last week] it was almost a two fish per boat average," said Gary Ryan at Van Riper's Resort in Sekiu.

Cost is $10 per angler, and everyone in the boat needs a ticket. fishing hours are Saturday 5 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Sunday 5 a.m. until noon.

First prize for the largest halibut is worth $10 per pound, and the biggest black rockfish is worth $100. Details: 360-963-2334 or 360-963-2311.

(Photo courtesy of Olson's Resort at Sekiu)

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June 10, 2009 4:44 PM

More fishing options looming in the Columbia River

Posted by Mark Yuasa


So the latest word is that the Lower Columbia River could open as soon as June 12 for hatchery summer steelhead, jack chinook and sockeye salmon.

The lower river steelhead fishery, which was supposed to open back on May 16, has been closed because of concerns about the incidental catch of upriver spring chinook. That run was updated earlier this week to 165,000 spring chinook enough to possibly allow reopening the lower river. However, it is nowhere near the pre-season forecast of 298,000.

"It isn't a big increase, but it may be enough to restore some fishing time for steelhead in the lower river," said Cindy LeFleur, a state Fish and Wildlife Columbia River policy manager said in a news release. "We told anglers we'd take a close look at the numbers, and that's what we're doing."

Word on the final decision of opening the lower river could happen soon.

In the meantime, beginning June 16, the Columbia River will be open to retention of hatchery steelhead, jack chinook and sockeye salmon from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco.

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam can retain up to two adult summer chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) as part of their daily limit from June 22 through July 5. The retention period for adult summer chinook above Bonneville begins July 1.

"Anglers can look forward to a slew of great fishing opportunities on the mainstem Columbia River in the next couple of months," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "On any given cast, you might reel in a summer chinook, a sockeye, a steelhead or a shad."

Hymer noted that fishery managers are forecasting a return of 70,700 summer chinook this season, up from 55,400 fish last year. They also anticipate a return of 183,200 sockeye, most ranging from 3.5 to 4 pounds apiece.

Last year, fishery managers predicted that 75,600 sockeye would return to the Columbia River, but the actual run came in at about 214,500 fish, he said.

Sockeye numbers are building at Bonneville Dam with nearly a thousand fish counted on June 9. So far counts are tracking slightly ahead of last year.

About 330,000 upriver summer steelhead are also expected this year, following an early-run fish already migrating into several Lower Columbia River tributaries.

Hymer said fishing for hatchery summer-run steelhead should continue to improve in the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal and Klickitat rivers in the weeks ahead.

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June 9, 2009 10:00 AM

Columbia spring chinook return updated, and more sport fishing could occur soon for other fish species

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The Columbia River Technical Advisory Committee met yesterday, and updated the Columbia River upriver spring chinook run size.

The springer run size is 165,000 fish through June 6 still nowhere near the prediction of 298,000 set this past winter, but maybe enough to reopen some fisheries.

I talked with Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver, and he pointed out that there could be some additional recreational opportunities possible in the near future.

"Stay tuned," he said.

One of the possibilities is reopening the Lower Columbia River for summer steelhead, jack chinook and sockeye.

State Fish and Wildlife delayed the Lower Columbia River steelhead fishing opener, which was scheduled to open back on May 16 from the I-5 Bridge downstream until further notice.

The closure was necessary because fisheries managers worried about the incidental catches of a much lower than forecast adult spring chinook return.

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June 8, 2009 9:44 PM

Word on Columbia River and tributary sport fisheries, and how fish returns are shaping up

Posted by Mark Yuasa


Here is the latest sport fishing news from the Columbia River and its tributaries:

Cowlitz River - Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught. Most of the chinook were sampled near the barrier dam. Through June 3, a total of 2,301 hatchery adults (goal 1,250) and 1,002 jacks had returned to the salmon hatchery.

Kalama River - No report on steelhead angling success. Through June 3, a total of 44 adults (goal 500) and 22 jacks had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Lewis River - No report on steelhead angling success. 984 adults are on-hand including 342 from today. Goal for Lewis only production is about 1,000 fish.

Wind River - Mixture of adult and jack spring chinook are being caught in the gorge and upper river. Effort is down to just a few boats per day at the mouth.

From Charlie Cochran WDFW Technician: There have been no new detections at Bonneville of PIT tagged spring chinook from CNFH since the last update on May 28th. The total at Bonneville for the season was 82 adult and 30 jacks, producing estimates of 6,338 adult and 2,695 jack chinook from CNFH.

There have been a total of 17 tagged adult chinook from CNFH detected passing the PIT interrogation system at Shipherd Falls as of the morning of June 4, 2009. This is an increase of five tagged fish since the last download one week ago. Expanding by the CNFH tag rate produces an estimate of 1,314 which is an increase of 386 since May 28.

An additional three PIT tagged jacks were detected bringing the season total to eight for an estimate of 718 jacks from CNFH. These estimates assume a 100% interrogation efficiency at Shipherd Falls. These numbers are underestimates if the system is less than 100% efficient.

Carson National Fish Hatchery on the Wind River met its goal (1,200 fish) as of today (June 8).

Drano Lake - Anglers are still catching some spring chinook though effort is low.

Based on data from the Fish Passage Center site, 14,938 of the 934,438 (1.6%) 2006 brood Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery spring chinook were PIT tagged. Based on the DART web site, 79 Little White Salmon 2006 brood PIT tags have been detected at Bonneville Dam through June 3. Applying the 79 PIT tags detected/1.6% smolt PIT tag rate = 4,900 Little White Salmon spring chinook jacks have crossed Bonneville Dam through June 3.

Klickitat River - Some of the best fishing of the season for the Klickitat was reported last week. Combination of adult and jack spring chinook and summer run steelhead were caught. About half the chinook were chrome bright. Flows at Pitt were 2,350 cfs this morning, just above the long-term mean for this date.

A total of 5,000 PIT tags were put into the 2005 and 2006 brood spring chinook releases from Klickitat Hatchery. The total 2005 brood smolt release from Klickitat Hatchery was approximately 630,000 fish of which 0.0079% were PIT tagged. Through June 3, a total of 12 four-year-old Klickitat Hatchery PIT tags have been detected at Bonneville Dam. Using the 12 PIT tags recovered at Bonneville Dam/0.0079 smolt PIT tag rate = 1,520 Klickitat Hatchery four-year-olds have crossed Bonneville Dam to date.

From Joe Zendt Yakama Biologist: Based upon mature fish Floy tagged at Lyle Falls and recovered at the hatchery, the updated mark-recapture population estimate is 2,518 fish (95% CI: 1550 to 4493) with 93% being hatchery fish. The population estimate is subject to some change based on the proportion of tagged and untagged fish that show up at the hatchery over the next few weeks (i.e. the number won't necessarily keep climbing).

Through June 3, a total of 120 fish had returned to the salmon hatchery; no breakdown on adults and jacks until 1st sorting later this month. Goal is 500 adults.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna power lines downstream - Effort continues to build with nearly 370 private and 19 charters counted during last Saturday's (June 6) flight. Creel sampling data from the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco and the Deep River ramp should be available by tomorrow.

A total of 15,529 fish are available for 2009 fisheries below Wauna. Based on catch estimates through May, about 14,400 fish are available for harvest below Wauna for the remainder of 2009. Catch rates through May are tracking lower than in 2008.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna power lines to Marker #85 - A total of 166 boats were counted in this section during last Saturday's flight. Boat anglers around Vancouver and from Longview downstream are catching some legals as are some bank anglers in the Longview area. About 40% of the boats were found in the gorge.

A total of 11,268 fish are available for harvest in 2009. This includes harvest in the Willamette River which is projected to be 4,450 fish above the baseline (5,675 fish total) in 2009.

The estimated harvest for the Willamette River from January 1-May 31, 2009 is 4,129 fish, which is 190 fish below the projected harvest through May and 73% of the modeled annual harvest of 5,675 fish. The estimated harvest for the mainstem Columbia River from January 1-May 31, 2009 is approximately 2,000 white sturgeon, or about twice the 2008 harvest for the same period but only 200-300 fish above the projected harvest through May.

Staff will continue to distribute weekly updates for lower Columbia sturgeon fisheries. A second update should be available by June 17, 2009.

Bonneville Pool - Catch and release only through the end of the year.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Bonneville Pool - Boat anglers averaged almost 5 bass kept/released per rod. No effort was observed for walleye.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake - Bank anglers are catching some rainbows.

Riffe Lake - Bank anglers are catching some landlocked coho.

Swofford Pond - Bank anglers are catching rainbows, bluegills, and perch.

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June 8, 2009 3:25 PM

Where they're biting, where they're not

Posted by Mark Yuasa

This is an interactive map that shows the best and worst places to cast a line in Washington state. It's usually updated on Mondays and Thursdays.


View Larger Map

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June 7, 2009 10:00 AM

Another public meeting to discuss Puget Sound chinook salmon fisheries

Posted by Mark Yuasa

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Looking to add some input on how chinook salmon fisheries are created and managed in Puget Sound's waterways?

State Fish and Wildlife managers will hold a second public workshop on chinook salmon fisheries in Puget Sound 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. June 12 at the Mountaineers Building, 7700 Sand Point Way N.E. in Seattle.

At the workshop there will be discussions on efforts to update the federally approved fisheries plan that guides conservation of Puget Sound chinook salmon throughout their range.

"The workshop is a continuation of a meeting that took place in May," Phil Anderson, the state Fish and Wildlife interim director said in a news release. "During the May workshop, fishery managers discussed the scientific basis of the current plan and possible changes to fishery management."

The June workshop will feature a panel discussion among outside experts in fisheries, hatchery management, environmental issues and other disciplines, said Anderson.

"During the June workshop we will focus on ideas for improving the management of our fisheries to better support efforts to conserve and recover Puget Sound chinook salmon," said Anderson. "This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in Puget Sound chinook management to offer their thoughts on possible updates to the plan."

The current plan -- set to expire next April -- defines conservation goals for state and tribal fisheries that harvest Puget Sound chinook salmon, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Under that law, no fisheries affecting Puget Sound chinook can occur without a conservation plan approved by NOAA Fisheries.

Click here to view the current Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan.

(Photo taken by Mark Yuasa, Seattle Times fishing-hunting reporter)

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June 6, 2009 10:44 AM

National Fishing and Boating Week begins today

Posted by Mark Yuasa


National Fishing and Boating Week is June 6-14, and this a perfect time to get the family and kids outdoors and away from the distractions of everyday life like the TV, computer, video games, iPods and cellphones.

For boating, the Northwest Marine Trade Association has started an innovative boat giveaway contest to begin promoting the new SeattleBoatShow.com Web site.

Contestants enter to win the use of a new Cobalt 222 for a week from Seattle Boat Company. The boat, which is wrapped in the graphics of KING-TV's Evening Magazine television program, will be awarded to 12 different families to use the boat for one week each this summer.

"We are thrilled to kickoff the new Seattle Boat Show Web site with a dynamite boat giveaway this summer," John Thorburn, the NMTA's Director of Communications and Marketing said in a news release.

"SeattleBoatShow.com is now the place in the Pacific Northwest for boats, and boating resources," said Thorburn. "The same great products, services and information that boaters in the region have come to enjoy at the boat show each January, can now find it all online year-round."

Visitors to the site can take advantage of several tools to help them research their boat purchase, including requesting the value of a trade-in, requesting a brochure of a specific listing, tips on finding financing and insurance, and more.

"Boat buyers are doing their homework online before they walk into the boat show or dealership," said Thorburn. "The new SeattleBoatShow.com puts those tools of research and comparison into the hands of buyers so they can connect to boats and services offered by the dealers and brokers in the region."

The NMTA is also offering free sailboat rides June 11 to Aug. 13, and are being given away by organizers of the Seattle Boat Show.

Pairs of free passes will be handed out each week, and two lucky people will get to be aboard a luxurious racing sailboat during the Downtown Sailing Series out of Elliott Bay Marina. The sailing event draws hundreds of boaters out on the water every Thursday.

To enter, go to Seattle Boat Show's Web site.

For more information about the Downtown Sailing Series, visit the Elliott Bay Marina Web site.

For more information local boating, go to the Northwest Marine Trade Association Web site.

In the United States there are thousands of places to fish and boat, and some of the best resources to use for fishing is the Take Me Fishing Campaign Web site.

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) relaunch of www.TakeMeFishing.org reports that its Web site has received 2.4 million unique visitors - up 129 percent from 2008 and 243 percent from 2007.

For a listing of more than 12,000 places to fish and boat, local events taking place during National Fishing and Boating Week, and information about free-fishing days, visit www.TakeMeFishing.org.

Locally, this is Free Fishing Weekend (June 6-7) and what better way to introduce someone to the sport of fishing than by taking them out to experience the wonders of fishing.

Anglers are required to obtain a catch-record card to catch some species like salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut and crab.

Statewide, there are more than 500 miles of coastal shoreline and more than 2,000 miles of inner marine shoreline offering decent fishing and shellfish gathering.

Add 4,000 rivers and streams, more than 7,000 lakes and 208 reservoirs, and you've got plenty of places to wet a line.

I asked some experts to limit the options to a few best bets.

"I would tell them to take a look at Pine or Beaver lakes because those are both planted very heavily and offer some good bank access," said Mike Chamberlain at Ted's Sports Center in Lynnwood. "Padden Lake in Bellingham has fairly good shoreline access too. Martha Lake [at Alderwood Manor] has some public access in the south end of the lake."

Chamberlain said Grimes Lake located north of Jameson Lake in Douglas County is a quality water fishery for Lahontan cutthroat trout that can weigh up to 12 pounds.

Good reports have also come from Fish Lake up by Wenatchee, and anglers can fish off the dock at Cove Resort or rent a boat there. Fish has been great for pan-size trout of late.

It is not one of the more peaceful places to fish but Green Lake in North Seattle has wide open bank access and docks to choose from, and the lake is heavily planted so fishing should hold up through this month.

Other lakes recently planted or offer good fishing are American, Meridian, Stevens, Battleground, Mayfield and Mineral (boat rental available).

Another good place to take out the beginner for pan fish such as bluegills, perch and catfish are the finger docks and shoreline of Foster Island located in the Montlake lake Cut across from the UW Husky Stadium, which is part of Lake Washington.

By far one of the easiest and most accessible things to do this weekend is to go shellfish-gathering at Puget Sound and Hood Canal beaches where another series of low tides occur.

As a standard rule all eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are closed for shellfish harvesting due to unsafe pollution levels. Before going to a beach is to call the shellfish safety hotline at 800-562-5632.

Puget Sound low tides: Saturday, June 6, minus-1.9 feet at 10:43 a.m.; Sunday, June 7, -2.0 at 11:17 a.m.

Fishing from a saltwater pier is a good option for older kids or beginning adults. Try Edmonds, Pier 86 in Elliott Bay, Seacrest, Point Defiance Boathouse and Les Davis piers.

Down in the Columbia River, there is a no-brainer bank fishery creating a buzz, with the shad migrating in by the thousands and thousands. As of June 2, almost 500,000 shad had passed up the Bonneville Dam fish counter so far this spring.

"The [single day] numbers are still up there between 60,000 and 80,000 the last few days," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Bank anglers can find ample access from the shoreline from Bonneville in the gorge down to Woodland, Kalama, Cathlamet and Longview.

Many rivers open this Saturday (June 6) for fishing, and while most are running high and swift from snowmelt run off some should be fishable like the Green, Cedar, Skagit, Cascade, Cowlitz and Snoqualmie.

Those willing to hop on a charter boat should head to Westport this Sunday for the halibut fishery's final day. Anglers were averaging almost a halibut per rod and they weighed on average about 19 pounds.

All rules still apply when fishing, including daily limits, lure and bait restrictions and size limits of fish. If you aren't sure be sure to pick up a regulation pamphlet at the local tackle shop.

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June 5, 2009 10:09 AM

Puget Sound Anglers Lake Washington Chapter Trout Derby on June 13

Posted by Mark Yuasa

Doug01.jpg

Summer fun is about to happen on Lake Washington soon with the Puget Sound Anglers Lake Washington Chapter's Trout Derby on June 13 at Gene Coulon Park in Renton.

Cost is $20 per angler, and free for those 12 years and under. The largest trout earns $400 in cash, second place is worth $200, third is $100, and the mystery fish weight gets $100.

Additional prize drawings will be at the awards ceremony, and free hot dogs and soda from noon to 2 p.m.

Here are some of the rules for the derby:

All persons in the boat must have a derby ticket prior to fishing. All Derby ticket holders are eligible to fish and win prizes, including PSA Lake Washington members, derby staff and/or sponsor staff. Tickets will be available the morning of the derby from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Gene Coulon boat launch (cash only, no checks or bankcards).

All contestants must abide by all Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife, Coast Guard, and other applicable rules and regulations. Fishing is limited to Lake Washington and only rainbow and/or cutthroat trout may be entered.

Regulations for Lake Washington are March 1-June 30, Minimum size 12 inches. Daily limit five fish. Release all STEELHEAD and RAINBOW TROUT over 20 inches.

Fishing Hours. The Derby runs Saturday, June 13th, daylight until 2 pm. The awards ceremony begins at 2:30 pm on Saturday at the Gene Coulon Derby Station.

Submitting fish: Contestants must show a valid derby ticket before entering a legal fish in the derby. Each contestant must play and weigh-in his or her own fish within official Derby hours. Fish must be turned in to the official Derby drop-off station at Gene Coulon Park from 12 pm to 2 pm. A Derby official will log in each catch. All fish will be refrigerated and held by Derby officials until awards ceremony. The first fish recorded at a given weight wins a tie. Ties will be decided by time of entry. A coin toss will decide identical times. Fish will be marked after weigh-in. All fish must be whole and fresh caught and may not be altered in any way. Any fish showing signs of having been altered, frozen or in any way unnaturally preserved will be disqualified. All fish are subject to inspection, including cleaning, at official's discretion. Awards Ceremony. The awards ceremony will start at 2:30 pm at the Gene Coulon derby station. ALL PRIZES AND FISH SHOULD BE PICKED UP at the awards ceremony; you must present your ticket at the time.

Bentrout.jpg

No contestant may win more than one "ladder" prize (i.e. a prize based on the size of the fish) regardless of the number or size of fish entered. This does not apply to BONUS CASH or giveaway prizes. In addition to the cash prizes, there may be additional prizes that will awarded through a drawing to ticket holders that are present at the awards ceremony turned in.

Launch Ramps: There are several launch ramps within the Derby area, but only Gene Coulon has a fish drop-off and weigh-in stations. Derby anglers are responsible for launch fees at all boat ramps.

Note: Parking regulations at Gene Coulon Park are STRICTLY enforced.

Safety. This is an all-weather derby. Participants are expected to use common sense with respect to weather or water conditions. Be sure that your equipment is in good condition, that you have appropriate safety gear aboard, and that you keep abreast of local weather forecasts. Anglers respect the unpredictable weather here on Lake Washington especially during the month of June. We want you to have a pleasant and SAFE Derby. You will have a great time - if you are prepared, and make reasonable decisions.

Derby Disputes. The decisions of the Derby Committee shall be final with respect to any and all issues related to the Derby.

Responsibility. Any person who enters the Derby, or who provides assistance to Derby officials or otherwise participates in the Derby, hereby agrees to waive and release, and hold harmless the Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington, its officers, directors and members, the Derby Committee, sponsors and officials, from any and all claims, actions, damages (including personal injury and property damages), and losses that arise from your participation in any aspect of the Derby, including but not limited to the Awards Ceremony; in particular, if you agree to participate, you agree that you are responsible for your own safety.

Details: 425-823-0704 or the Puget Sound Anglers Lake Washington Chapter Web site.

(Photos taken by Diane Elliott)

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June 5, 2009 10:00 AM

Where they're biting, where they're not

Posted by Mark Yuasa

This is an interactive map that shows the best and worst places to cast a line in Washington state. It's usually updated on Mondays and Thursdays.


View Larger Map

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June 4, 2009 5:23 PM

Changes on summer fishing rules for some Puget Sound rivers and streams

Posted by Mark Yuasa

Fishing rule changes will begin June 6 until further notice on several Puget Sound area rivers to provide more protection for wild steelhead, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

"These conservation measures are necessary to increase protection for wild steelhead in river systems with known weak stocks and provide a more precautionary approach to the management of waters where the status of the wild run is uncertain," Heather Bartlett, a state Fish and Wildlife salmon and steelhead division manager said in a news release.

Anglers fishing the South Fork Nooksack River and North Fork Skykomish River will need to catch and release all game fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead daily may be retained. Selective gear rules and a night closure are in effect.

In the Tolt River and Canyon Creek anglers may catch and release all game fish, and may keep up to two hatchery steelhead daily with selective gear rules in place.

Finney Creek will be closed to all fishing.

On the South Fork Skokomish River anglers must catch and release all game fish with selective gear rules in place.

On the Dungeness River anglers may catch and release all game fish with selective gear rules in place. However, up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained daily below the Dungeness Forks Campground.

On the Skokomish River anglers must catch and release all game fish June 6 through July 31, and selective gear rules are in effect, except fishing from a motorized vessel is allowed.

The Gray Wolf River from the mouth at Dungeness Forks Campground upstream to the Olympic National Park boundary is open June 6 until further notice for catch and release of all game fish with selective gear rules in effect.

Bartlett said the changes are consistent with state Fish and Wildlife's Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which was approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008.

The statewide plan sets out a variety of conservation policies to guide fisheries management, hatchery operations and habitat-restoration programs, and provides a framework for regional steelhead management plans currently being developed.

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June 4, 2009 1:54 PM

Sturgeon catch and keep fishing coming to a close in sections of the Columbia River

Posted by Mark Yuasa


The sport catch and keep sturgeon fishery will be closed between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River beginning June 6 through Dec. 31.

This includes the Columbia River, and tributaries from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam. The closure was necessary because fishery managers have determined catch guideline of 700 fish will be reached by June 5.

Catch and release of sturgeon is still allowed between Bonneville and McNary Day dams, except in the spawning sanctuaries, which are closed to all sturgeon fishing through July 31.

The Lower Columbia River remains open for sturgeon fishing, and anglers in the estuary report catches have improved of late with charter boats doing better than one legal-size fish for every three rods.

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June 3, 2009 2:22 PM

No license needed to fish as this is Free Fishing Weekend

Posted by Mark Yuasa

cottagefishermen.jpg

What better way to get someone hooked on fishing than by offering some tips during Free Fishing Weekend, this Saturday and Sunday (June 6-7), when no license is required to fish or gather shellfish.

Anglers are required to obtain a catch-record card to catch some species like salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut and crab.

Statewide, there are more than 500 miles of coastal shoreline and more than 2,000 miles of inner marine shoreline offering decent fishing and shellfish gathering.

Add 4,000 rivers and streams, more than 7,000 lakes and 208 reservoirs, and you've got plenty of places to wet a line.

I asked some experts for a few of their top chocies.

"I would tell them to take a look at Pine or Beaver lakes because those are both planted very heavily and offer some good bank access," said Mike Chamberlain at Ted's Sports Center in Lynnwood. "Padden Lake in Bellingham has fairly good shoreline access too. Martha Lake [at Alderwood Manor] has some public access in the south end of the lake."

Chamberlain said Grime Lake located north of Jameson Lake in Douglas County is a quality water fishery for Lahontan cutthroat trout that can weigh up to 12 pounds. Good reports have also come from Fish Lake up by Wenatchee, and anglers can fish off the dock at Cove Resort or rent a boat there. Fish has been great for pan-size trout of late.

It is not one of the more peaceful places to fish but Green Lake in North Seattle has wide open bank access and docks to choose from, and the lake is heavily planted so fishing should hold up through this month.

Other lakes recently planted or offer good fishing are American, Meridian, Stevens, Battleground, Mayfield and Mineral (boat rental available).

Another good place to take out the beginner for pan fish such as bluegills, perch and catfish are the finger docks and shoreline of Foster Island located in the Montlake Cut across from the UW Husky Stadium, which is part of Lake Washington.

Lake Washington itself is lined with many docks and piers at Leschi, Mount Baker, Seward Park, Coulon Park in Renton, Luther Burbank on Mercer Island, Kenmore, Newport Beach, Madison Park and Juanita just to name a few. The lake has a wide variety of species of fish to catch including trout, perch, catfish and bass.

By far one of the easiest and most accessible things to do this weekend is to go shellfish-gathering at Puget Sound and Hood Canal beaches where another series of low tides occur.

As a standard rule all eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are closed for shellfish harvesting due to unsafe pollution levels. Before going to a beach is to call the shellfish safety hotline at 800-562-5632.

Puget Sound low tides: Saturday, June 6, minus-1.9 feet at 10:43 a.m.; Sunday, June 7, -2.0 at 11:17 a.m.

Fishing from a saltwater pier is a good option for older kids or beginning adults. Try Edmonds, Pier 86 in Elliott Bay, Seacrest, Point Defiance Boathouse and Les Davis piers.

Down in the Columbia River, there is a no-brainer bank fishery creating a buzz, with the shad migrating in by the thousands and thousands. As of June 2, almost 500,000 shad had passed up the Bonneville Dam fish counter so far this spring.

"The [single day] numbers are still up there between 60,000 and 80,000 the last few days," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Bank anglers can find ample access from the shoreline from Bonneville in the gorge down to Woodland, Kalama, Cathlamet and Longview.

Many rivers open this Saturday (June 6) for fishing, and while most are running high and swift from snowmelt run off some should be fishable like the Green, Cedar, Skagit, Cascade, Cowlitz and Snoqualmie.

Those willing to hop on a charter boat should head to Westport this Sunday for the halibut fishery's final day. Anglers were averaging almost a halibut per rod and they weighed on average about 19 pounds.

All rules still apply when fishing, including daily limits, lure and bait restrictions and size limits of fish. If you aren't sure be sure to pick up a regulation pamphlet at the local tackle shop or view it at the state Fish and Wildlife Web site.

(Photo by Dean Rutz, Seattle Times staff photographer)

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June 1, 2009 2:25 PM

Where they're biting, where they're not

Posted by Mark Yuasa

This is an interactive map that shows the best and worst places to cast a line in Washington state. It's usually updated on Mondays and Thursdays.


View Larger Map

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