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Old News 2011

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Old News 2011

 

Great expectations await spring chinook fishery on the Columbia

It's only a matter of time before the first migrating spring chinook is hooked by a lucky angler in the Lower Columbia River.

By Mark Yuasa

Seattle Times staff reporter

It's only a matter of time before the first migrating spring chinook is hooked by a lucky angler in the Lower Columbia River.

We already know this fish will be among a strong forecast of 414,500, which could lead to the fourth-largest return of upriver spring chinook on record.

Fishing is currently open daily from Buoy 10 in the Lower Columbia up to I-5. The fishery expands upriver to Beacon Rock from March 1 to April 6 (closed March 20, March 27 and April 3), and possibly longer depending in the catch rate.

Also opening March 1 is bank fishing from Beacon Rock to the boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Fishing above Bonneville Dam will be open daily from March 16 to May 2, between the Tower Island power lines 6 miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank angling is allowed from Bonneville Dam up to the power lines during that time.

Starting March 1, anglers below Bonneville may keep one hatchery-marked adult spring chinook daily. Above the dam, anglers can keep daily beginning March 16.

More statewide salmon forecasts will be revealed when state Fish and Wildlife has a public meeting 9 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia.

But before those figures are unveiled, let's gaze back at how things fared last season.

The big eye opener was an estimated 378,056 salmon angler trips taken in the Lower Columbia last year, which broke the previous record of slightly more than 371,000 set in 2010.

The 24,973 summer steelhead kept by anglers last year smashed the previous record of 18,324 fish kept in 2010, and was the highest on record since at least 1975.

Add to that another 45,000 adult chinook kept, second only to 2010 when 49,000 fish were taken home by anglers.

Ample time on the water also allowed anglers to reap their fishing fortunes.

Last year, spring chinook fishing on the Lower Columbia was open Jan. 1 to April 4, April 8-19 and reopened on May 15. In that time, a total of 154,895 angler trips were taken with 11,694 spring chinook kept.

Anglers were allowed to keep summer chinook from May 15 to July 17. In past years, the option would close by mid-April and wouldn't reopen until mid-June. Also during the small period when chinook catch-and-keep was closed July 18 to Aug. 1, summer steelhead action ramped up.

The summer steelhead catch of 11,160 in August was tops for any month since at least 1969, and walloped the previous record of 8,549 from July.

Add to that a record 18,509 kept or released in August, compared to the previous record of 15,934 in July 2009.

Going back to records that started in 1969, the 5,160 adult summer hatchery chinook kept were a record. The old record was 4,924 fish caught during a nonselective fishery in 2006.

When the fall chinook started to show up in the Columbia around August, fishing never slowed down.

A record 28,168 adult fall chinook were caught in the Lower Columbia from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31. The previous record was 26,195 adults kept in 2003.

During that period, 147,343 angler trips were taken, which was a record effort since at least 1980. The previous high was 117,975 angler trips taken in 2009.

The good times weren't just limited to one location, as the Hanford Reach area saw a record 11,598 kings kept last year.

There also were a record 1,427 Lower Columbia sockeye (which rarely bite any lure or bait thrown at them) kept. That was nearly twice the previous record of 900 in 2009.

With the upwelling of cold water from La Nina conditions securely fastened in the ocean, there should be more excellent survival rates as this season's fish migrate back.

All ocean and Puget Sound salmon fisheries will be finalized April 1-6.

Click her for a list of meetings.

Two chinook counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, but unsure if they are spring or late fall fish

Posted by Mark Yuasa

The first spring chinook hasn't been hooked by any angler on the Lower Columbia River below I-5 just yet, but two might have shown up elsewhere on the mighty river.

Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver says an adult and a jack chinook were counted at Bonneville Dam on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

"We aren't sure if it was a late fall chinook or a springer," Hymer said, "The (lower river) commercial sturgeon fishery starts on Monday, and we'll see what they catch too."

Here is what the actual fish counter at Bonneville said: "Unclipped chinook adult and an unclipped chinook jack that went through one right behind the other (on Wednesday) and they both had the white chins, and I don't think they're springers. I was doing video when they went through so I got to see them live as well as the video. They're both bright as can be, but just don't have the look of a springer."

Even if those aren't truly spring chinook it is only a matter of time before we hear about the first one caught.

The upriver Columbia River spring chinook forecast is 314,200 compared to a forecast last year of 198,400 and an actual return of 221,200. It would be the fourth largest dating back to 1980, with the largest return of 440,300 happening in 2001.

The second largest occurred in 2002 when 335,000 upriver springers returned, and the third largest was 315,000 in 2010.

Harvest guidelines adopted will allow anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam to catch and keep up to 14,500 hatchery-reared spring chinook before the run forecast is updated in May.

Spring chinook fishing is currently open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to the I-5 bridge.

Under the new rules, the sport fishery will expand upriver to Beacon Rock from March 1 through April 6. During that period, the sport fishery will close on three Tuesdays - March 20, March 27 and April 3 - to accommodate commercial fisheries.

Starting March 1, bank anglers will also be allowed to fish from Beacon Rock up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Above Bonneville Dam, the fishery will be open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from March 16 through May 2 between the Tower Island powerlines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the powerlines during that time.

Starting March 1, anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville Dam may retain one marked, hatchery-reared adult spring chinook as part of their daily catch limit. Above the dam, anglers can keep two marked adult spring chinook per day effective March 16.

As in years past, only hatchery-reared spring chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin may be retained. Any unmarked wild spring chinook must be released unharmed.

Decent salmon fishing off coast and on Columbia predicted in 2012

Predictions for year are promising for Northwest anglers.

By Mark Yuasa

Seattle Times staff reporter

Salmon anglers should have decent fishing opportunities off the coast and on the Columbia River next summer and fall.

"The summer chinook return for the Upper Columbia is a good forecast, and the highest since at least 1980," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

The Upper Columbia summer chinook forecast is 91,200, compared to a forecast of 91,100 last year and an actual return of 80,600.

The record Columbia River summer chinook return was 89,500 in 2002.

All salmon stocks in recent years are benefiting from La Nina's colder water upwelling conditions that produce fantastic ocean survival rates, not only for fin fish species but the entire food chain.

Most of the summer chinook migrate up the Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam from mid-June through July, and are commonly referred to by anglers as "June Hogs."

Last summer's 5,160 adult hatchery-marked summer chinook kept is a record, breaking the 4,924 in 2006. There was an estimated 75,818 angler trips, the highest since at least 1973.

The Columbia is also expecting a relatively strong sockeye return of 462,000 in 2012, compared to a forecast of 161,900 last year, and an actual return of 183,300.

Most of the sockeye — 431,300 — are destined for the Okanogan River with 28,800 headed to the Wenatchee (41,800 returned last year) and 1,900 back to the Snake River in Idaho (1,900).

If the 2012 forecast pans out, it would be a record return since at least 1938. The largest sockeye return was 387,900 in 2010.

"Sockeye can be difficult to forecast, and the Snake River return hasn't increased and is going to be a constraining factor again," said Kathryn Kostow of Oregon Fish and Wildlife and Columbia River Technical Advisory Committee chairwoman.

The Columbia sockeye fisheries are quite limited by Snake River sockeye, which are listed on the Endangered Species Act.

But the Lower Columbia was open for sockeye fishing last summer, with a record of 1,427 sockeye kept.

No specific forecasts have been released for fall salmon runs, but some general information was recently announced.

The upriver bright fall chinook return in 2012 is expected to be strong again, and is a major contributor in the Columbia River fisheries.

All other Columbia River fall chinook stocks should be similar to 2011 actual returns, including the lower river hatchery stock that produced one of the better fishing seasons off the coast. The Bonneville Pool hatchery chinook return is predicted to be less than 2011.

The total fall chinook returns in the Columbia River last year were predicted to be 766,300 adult fish (nearly 108,000 more than the 2010 forecast), and the actual return was about 600,000.

The Lower Columbia River fall chinook had a record kept catch of 28,169 adult fish with 147,343 angler trips taken from past August through October. The previous record was 26,195 adults kept in 2003, and the previous angler trip record was 117,975 in 2009.

The 2011 coho return is slightly greater than 270,800, and the jack return about 13,000, compared to 10-year average of 28,00.

All the salmon fishing seasons will be announced in early April.

Grant to remove debris from Icicle, Wenatchee

By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer

Friday, November 25, 2011

The state Department of Ecology has awarded $25,000 to Chelan County to clean up Icicle Creek and the upper Wenatchee River.

The county will partner with the Icicle Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited to get residents to help remove rip-rap and other debris, and replace them with native plants, an Ecology news release said.

Sockeye on the Yakima?

ROZA DAM, YAKIMA RIVER CANYON -- Here at a crossroads of fish migration in the Yakima River, a species that hasn't been seen in a hundred years is making a dramatic reappearance.

The revered sockeye salmon are smolts right now, the offspring of adults planted in Lake Cle Elum for the first time in 2009 as part of aYakama Nation fisheries project.

The smolts are headed downstream to spend two years in the Pacific Ocean before returning to start the cycle all over again.

On their journey to the ocean, they will pass adult steelhead trout and spring chinook salmon making their way upstream to spawn.

Some doubted that sockeye, a prized salmon for native people, could ever be brought back. They perished when the mountain lakes they relied on for food, spawning and rearing were dammed in the 1900s with crude crib structures made of timbers filled with rocks.

Later, the Bureau of Reclamation built permanent dams at the four natural lakes -- Cle Elum, Keechelus, Kachess and Bumping.

Naysayers contended sockeye destined for their home waters but intercepted at Priest Rapids Dam wouldn't respond in a new environment because it would lack the "scent" of their home waters.

But those doubts are being answered with a whisper that Yakama fisheries biologists are optimistic will grow into a shout. Biologists call this first outmigration a good sign, confirmation that the fish could overcome obstacles in a drive to spawn.

"Their instinct to reproduce is greater than anything else," Yakama Nation research scientist Mark Johnston said while working Tuesday at the Roza monitoring station, a key facility for trapping both juveniles and adult fish for ongoing Yakama research. "That is their whole mission."

Johnston said more than 500 sockeye smolts have been captured here since the first fish were trapped in the nearby juvenile facility more than two weeks ago.

Biologists will track the fish through the mainstem Columbia River dams and back via a small device -- a passive integrated transponder -- implanted in their bellies.

In addition to inserting the 2 millimeter tag, fisheries staff measured the length of each fish.

The fish tagged at Roza are a percentage of the overall run to date. Downstream, a juvenile capture facility at Prosser has counted 2,400 sockeye so far.

Dave Fast, a nation senior research scientist, said extrapolating an overall run to date based on sampling techniques would suggest that roughly 40,000 smolts have left the basin.

They are the offspring of 1,000 sockeye captured at Priest Rapids Dam and trucked to Lake Cle Elum in 2009. Another 2,500 were placed in the lake last year as part of a plan to start a self-sustaining sockeye run in the years ahead.

Fast said the numbers planted are a far cry from the estimated 300,000 sockeye that once plied the Yakima River annually before the run died out.

Tribal members value sockeye as food because of their high fat content.

"Tribal members used to fish for them heavily at Celilo Falls," Fast said. "It was their commercial center where they would trade with Plains tribes for buffalo and other goods."

Celilo Falls was lost in the 1950s with the completion of The Dalles Dam.

Should the sockeye run be re-established in the Yakima River -- and initial results are promising -- it would be the third in the state.

Existing sockeye populations are in Lake Wenatchee and Osoyoos Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Canada border.

The Yakama were able to capture parts of those two runs at Priest Rapids Dam and truck them to Lake Cle Elum. After the initial group of 1,000 in 2009, another 2,500 were planted last year.

How many can be collected this year won't be known until June when sockeye begin to traverse Bonneville Dam. The nation will be able to collect 1,000 fish after 80,000 have cleared Bonneville and another 1,000 when the run exceeds 110,000.

The project is made possible by a temporary fish passage flume placed in the spillway at Lake Cle Elum, the largest of the five storage lakes that serve the Yakima Irrigation Project. The flume allows fish to be released when the lake nears its full pool.

The project is designed to evaluate the feasibility of a permanent fish passage that could operate at varying lake elevations.

A permanent fish passage facility at a cost of $84 million has been adopted as the preferred alternative by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamationand state Department of Ecology.

Adults returning to the base of the dam, however, will still be captured and trucked around the dam for release.

Construction of the permanent fish ladder will need congressional approval and funding.

Meanwhile nation biologists are working to restore a healthy run of wild sockeye to supply the subsistence and ceremonial needs of tribal members and a sport fishery for the general public.

"The goal is to have a self-sustaining run that has a certain number of harvestable fish for tribal needs and a sport fishery," Johnston said.

2010 President's Report

Great pictures of our Icicle River Cleanup.  17 people helped.

Catch Record Cards for 2010

Attention all fishermen who have Catch Record Cards for 2010. All card holders need to return Catch Record Cards to WDFW by April 30, 2011. Send your Card to  WDFW CRC UNIT, 600 CAPITOL WAY NORTH, OLYMPIA, WA 98501- 1019. (The date has passed, but you can still send them in...). Make sure it is filled out properly with: Final comment: Sharpen your hooks and look forward to another great season. 

Bob Stroup

Lower Columbia spring chinook fishery still slow
Posted by Mark Yuasa

Here is the latest word on the Lower Columbia River spring chinook sport fishery.

From April 8-10 there were an estimated 7,400 angler trips with 665 spring chinook (513 kept and 152 released) and 201 steelhead handled.

For the season thru April 10, there have been an estimated 90,000 angler trips with 5,023 adult spring chinook kept and 1,485 released.

Still pretty low salmon effort for the first week of April with just over 700 boats and nearly 850 bank anglers counted during the Saturday, April 9 aerial flight count.

Last year at this time (Saturday, April 10) there were 2,300 salmon boats.

Sport fishing in the Lower Columbia River for spring chinook is open through April 18.

A meeting between Washington and Oregon Fish and Wildlife is 2 p.m. on April 14 to discuss updates, catches and if an extension on the fishery is possible.

From April 8-10, boat anglers averaged an adult spring chinook kept or released per every 10.5 rods while bank anglers averaged one per every 32.3 rods based on mainly completed and incomplete trips, respectively.

81-percent of the adult spring chinook hooked were kept. 85-percent were of upriver stock.

In comparison to previous years during this period, this year's catch rate is the lowest since at least 2000.

Boat anglers averaged an adult chinook kept/released per every 2.9 rods in 2010; 5.9 rods in 2009, 2.5 rods in 2008; 4.1 rods in 2007; 7.2 rods in 2006; 6.4 rods in 2005; 3.0 rods in 2004; 5.6 rods in 2003; 4.9 rods in 2002; and 4.6 rods in 2001.

Through April 10, just 659 adult spring chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam. Last year 7,148 fish had been counted at this time. The recent 10-year average is 16,764.

After reaching 400,000 cubic feet per second at Bonneville Dam on April 6, flows are expected to average just under 300,000 cfs for at least the next week and a half. The 10-year average for this time of year is 183,000 cfs.

Letter to the Senate

I know that many of you are busy with TU matters, preparing for spring fishing, or dealing with major natural resource issues in your own state legislatures, but we could sure use some of your good help over the next couple of weeks in dealing with HR 1 in Congress.

In late February the House drafted and passed a short term funding bill, HR 1, which could wipe out years of progress that TU - its volunteers, staff and partners - have made on some of our toughest habitat challenges, and cut severely into federal resource agency funding programs on which we rely. All of the harmful provisions remain in play over the next several weeks as a major deal is developed to keep the government running through the end of this fiscal year. A funding bill should not contain them, but the bill's ill-conceived legislative provisions contain a number of harmful items, including the following:

bullet

Removing funding for the Klamath River Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, a necessary step to evaluate removing four dams and reopening 350 miles of salmon habitat and resolve the long-running conflict in the Klamath Basin.

bullet

Stopping the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA from conducting a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protection for some wetlands and streams which were curtailed by two harmful and confusing Supreme Court decisions, Rapanos (2006) and SWANCC (2001).

bullet

Discontinuing rulemaking processes designed to protect streams from mountaintop removal mining.

bullet

Removing the EPA's authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Army Corps authorized permits for the disposal of dredge and fill material and to designate as off limits certain areas for such disposal.

bullet

Preventing the use of federal funds to implement certain Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction programs, which help to restore coldwater habitat in the headwater areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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Blocking the U.S. Forest Service's Travel Management Plans, which were developed to prevent uncontrolled off-road vehicle use from damaging fish and wildlife habitat.

The bill also cuts funding for vital conservation programs. Nobody disputes that spending must be reduced to cut our nation’s deficit, and sportsmen conservationists are willing to shoulder our share of the burden. But a disproportionate level of cuts should not be saddled on programs of critical value to sportsmen. HR 1 cuts discretionary non-military spending by roughly 13 percent, but reduces funding for key conservation programs by as much as 90 or 100%. Following is a list of such reductions: Cuts the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enables conservation of habitats through purchase of fee title or easements from willing sellers around the nation, by $393 million from FY 2010 levels—a cut of roughly 90%.  Potentially hundreds of acres of land could fail to be conserved if this funding cut became law;

bullet

Eliminates funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, a highly successful, landscape scale, partnership-driven effort;

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Cuts the National Fish Habitat program, one of the best landscape scale fisheries habitat conservation programs in the federal government, by 28%;

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Drastically cuts funding for Great Lakes restoration;

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Eliminates funding for the State Fish and Wildlife Grants program, a bedrock partnership between state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that states use to fund non-game habitat work, and TU has used successfully in places such as the Driftless Area in Wisconsin;

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Cuts important Farm Bill conservation programs.  Permanently cuts the Wetland Reserve Program by almost 50,000 acres and cuts the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by more than $350 million from authorized levels.

I know that many of you saw and responded to our earlier action alert on the matter and we thank you for that. If you can find another moment, please use the attached updated action alert posted to our online action center to launch another letter to your members of the House and Senate and encourage others in your chapter and council networks to do the same. There are a number of key states of special focus to our legislative advocacy work. We’ll be contacting council chairs/NLC representatives in those states in the coming days to see if you are willing to work with us on a statewide distribution of the attached alert to all the members within your states. Stay tuned for that. And, if you’re interested, we welcome the opportunity to work with you on an op-ed, highlighting local angles of the provisions for your state or local newspaper. We’ve already been working with some of you on this – like this op-ed recently printed in Colorado. Op-eds such as these are extremely valuable to our advocacy efforts.

To see a letter that TU and our partners sent to the Senate, please click here. To see a complete list of the bill’s provisions and to take action, please click here.

Thanks for your help,
Steve Moyer & Bryan Moore

NEWS RELEASE

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
February 8, 2011
Contact: WDFW Region 5 Office, (360) 696-6211

Columbia River fishing seasons set for spring chinook, sturgeon

OREGON CITY, OR – Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today set fishing seasons for Columbia River spring chinook salmon and white sturgeon that are expected to draw nearly two hundred thousand anglers to the big river this year.

Most of the new rules will take effect March 1, when fishing for spring chinook and sturgeon starts to heat up on the Columbia River. Sport fishing is currently open for both species on various sections of the river under rules adopted last year.

Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said fishing seasons for both species reflect the number of fish available for harvest within the states’ conservation guidelines.

“We’re expecting an average return of spring chinook this year, with a fairly high number of large fish in the mix,” LeFleur said. “On the other hand, the abundance of legal-size sturgeon below Bonneville Dam has declined, so harvest guidelines for that fishery will be tighter this year.”

2011 spring chinook seasons

According to the pre-season forecast, 198,400 upriver spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year, close to the 10-year average. To guard against overestimating the run, the states will manage the fishery with a 30 percent buffer until the forecast is updated in late April or early May.

“If the fish return at or above expectations, we will look toward providing additional days of fishing on the river later in spring,” LeFleur said.

Initial seasons announced today allocate 7,750 upper river spring chinook to the sport fishery below Bonneville Dam, 1,650 to anglers fishing above Bonneville and 2,100 to the commercial fleet. Those guidelines do not include the catch of spring chinook returning to Columbia River tributaries such as the Willamette, Cowlitz, Lewis and Wind rivers.

As in years past, anglers may retain only hatchery-reared fish, marked with a clipped adipose fin. All unmarked wild spring chinook must be released unharmed. 

Spring chinook fishing is currently open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to the Interstate 5 bridge. Under the new rules approved today, the fishery will be expanded 22 miles upriver to Rooster Rock from March 1 through April 4. 

Bank anglers will also be allowed to fish from Rooster Rock up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam during that time.

Above Bonneville Dam, the fishery will be open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from March 16 through April 24 between the Tower Island powerlines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the powerlines during that time.

Anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville Dam may retain one hatchery-reared adult chinook per day as part of their catch limit. Above the dam, anglers can keep two marked hatchery chinook per day.

Large, five-year-old fish are expected to make up an unusually high portion of this year’s catch, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. More than 100,000 five-year-old spring chinook – each weighing 18 to 30 pounds – are predicted to pass through fisheries en route to the Willamette River or the upper Columbia River this year.

By comparison, only about 26,000 five-year-old fish returned to those areas last year, despite a strong run of 423,000 spring chinook to those waters.

“We’re not expecting as many total fish back this year, but we are expecting a lot of big ones,” Hymer said. “Some of those fish are already starting to show up in the catch.” 

2011 white sturgeon seasons

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon also agreed on new seasons for Columbia River white sturgeon that reflect mutual concerns about the declining abundance of legal-size sturgeon below Bonneville Dam. 

New harvest guidelines approved today will limit this year’s catch in those waters to 17,000 fish, a 30 percent reduction from last year. That action follows a 40 percent reduction imposed during the 2010 fishing season. 

“In practical terms, this year’s action is expected to reduce the amount of time sturgeon fisheries in the lower Columbia River will be open at the end of the season,” said Brad James, another WDFW fish biologist. 

As in years past, 80 percent of the allowable catch will be allocated to the sport fishery and 20 percent to the commercial fishery. In addition, 60 percent of the sport catch will continue to be reserved for the estuary fishery below the Wauna powerlines and 40 percent for the fishery upriver from the powerlines to Bonneville Dam.

Fishing seasons approved for 2011 in the lower Columbia River are as follows:

·         Buoy 10 to the Wauna powerlines:  Retention of white sturgeon is allowed daily from Jan. 1 to April 30; May 14 through June 26; and July 1-4. From Jan. 1 to April 30, sturgeon must measure between 38 inches and 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. From May 14 through the end of the season they must measure 41 inches to 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed on days when retention is prohibited.  

·         Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam: Retention of white sturgeon is allowed three days per week (Thursday through Saturday) from Jan. 1 through July 31 and from Oct. 8 until Dec. 31. Sturgeon must measure between 38 inches and 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed on days when retention is prohibited. All fishing for sturgeon will be closed from May 1 through Aug. 31 in the sturgeon sanctuary downriver from Bonneville Dam described in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.

At a previous joint state hearing, the two states took action to close the Sand Island Slough near Rooster Rock to fishing at least through April 30.

Contrary to the trend in the lower river, monitoring and fishery data show that legal-size sturgeon populations are growing above Bonneville Dam, James said. In response, the states and tribes agreed to increase catch guidelines in two areas above the dam.

By their action, the harvest guideline was increased from 1,400 fish to 2,000 fish in the Bonneville Pool and from 165 fish to 500 fish in the John Day Pool. The 300-fish guideline in The Dalles Pool remains unchanged.

Even with the higher guideline in the Bonneville Pool, the states agreed to close those waters to sturgeon retention at the end of the day Feb. 18, when the catch is expected to reach the new 2,000-fish guideline. 

NewsLinks - WDFW Public Affairs

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011

Georgia Strait

Mass animal die-offs and the ongoing extinction crisis (BC focus)

KING 5

Could mushrooms clean up Puget Sound?

Peninsula Daily News

Boulders shore up Elwha levee to prepare for dams' demolition

Seattle Times

Wash. lawmakers propose better oil spill response 

SnoValley Star

Money for I-90 animal crossing project could go to other projects (public & wildlife safety be damned)

 

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011

Longview Daily News

Judge fines Chehalis developer for wetlands violations

Tri-City Herald

A gift of wilderness

Let Cargill Pond be

Long Beach's 'Garbage Gang' fights litter

 

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011

Everett Herald

    Salmon return to restored Coho Creek

Spokane Spokesman-Review

    Sockeyes make splash in 2010

Vancouver Columbian

    Sporting highlights and lowlights of 2010

    Columbia basin starts with healthy snowpack

 

 

Felt-soled wading shoes — long used to give stream anglers traction on slippery river bottoms — could be off store shelves in Oregon next year and banned statewide in 2013, a casualty in the war against invasive aquatic species.

The Oregon Legislature this session will consider a bill to phase out the felt soles on wading shoes, which can spread fish-killing viruses such as whirling disease, "rock snot" and other organisms.

Studies have directly tied angling activity to the spread of invasive organisms, and absorbent felt soles are among the most likely of any angling equipment to transport them.

So far, felt soles are banned in Alaska, Vermont and New Zealand. Oregon joins states such as Maryland and Montana that are debating a ban.

Companies such as Simms no longer produce felt-soled wading shoes, and several others within the industry are advertising more expensive alternatives as a way anglers can join the fight against invasive species.

Now called LC 1284, Oregon's draft bill will be in front of the Legislature's House Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee when the session reconvenes Feb. 1.

Supporters expect it to be met with at least some heartburn from anglers not wanting to toss away their old boots for fear of transporting organisms that aren't yet here, or because the bill focuses solely on felt rather than other clothing.

"It's not a perfect solution, and it doesn't solve all the problems," says Jim Myron, a lobbyist working on the bill. "But there is an issue with felt being a vector for invasives. It's a step in the right direction."

Some biologists on the front lines of the invasive-species battle also are concerned a felt-sole ban could trigger complacency among anglers who may mistakenly think they become part of the solution simply by shifting to rubber-and-cleat boots.

Rick Boatner, the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, fears going felt-less could leave anglers less likely to wash and bleach their boots and all their equipment between uses — the most effective means to prevent spreading problem species.

"I'm afraid they're going to get careless," says Boatner, whose agency will not take a position on the bill. "People might quit doing common cleaning because their shoes won't have felt soles. It's a good thing, but it's not a catch-all."

The bill comes at the behest of a Trout Unlimited chapter and is being vetted among other angling and conservation groups, says Myron, a former natural resources advisor during Gov. John Kitzhaber's first term as governor.

The original draft of the bill has the ban phased in by 2015, but the Oregon Invasive Species Council has added an amendment to boost each deadline by two years, Myron says.

Wildlife officials in Alaska and Montana have looked at the ban because of issues with whirling disease and rock snot, known scientifically as Didymosphenia geminata.

Whirling disease is a parasitic infection caused by the microscopic parasite Myxobolus cerebralis. The disease is named for the characteristic swimming behavior that results when the parasite multiplies in the head and spinal cartilage of infected fish.

It is considered a leading threat to wild trout populations in the intermountain West.

Rock snot, commonly called didymo, is a single-cell algae that can grow into large mats not unlike wet toilet paper, blanketing salmon and trout habitat. Both can be spread as single cells lodged in the slow-drying felt.

"Those small spores can stay moist in felt for days," Boatner says.

A 2007 Montana State University study concluded that anglers there on average carried almost 16 grams of sediment on their boots every time they changed fishing access points.

The Legislature already has made it illegal to launch any boat in Oregon with any form of aquatic organism, including vegetation, on any part of the boat.

Anglers have been receptive to the wash-your-boots mantra, and gear companies wouldn't be marketing boots as helping fight invasive species if it didn't catch anglers' eyes and wallets.

But there remains the spectre that invasive species can still come to Oregon on a boat hull, a moist wader booty or even the damp shoelace on a pair of $200 eco-friendly boots.

"The only permanent solution is to ban fishing, but I don't think anyone wants to go there," Myron says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

 

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