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Outdoors blog

Archive for April 2012

Washington extends Columbia springer fishing because of late run

FISHING — Anglers will have at least four more days to fish for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon on a section of the Columbia River stretching 163 miles upstream from Bonneville Dam to the Tri-Cities area.

Citing the late timing of this year’s run, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to extend the fishery through May 6.

According to current projections, anglers will catch only about 232 of 1,689 salmon available for harvest through May 2, when the fishery was initially scheduled to close pending an updated run assessment.

“Fishing above Bonneville Dam has been slow, with the bulk of the run yet to arrive,” said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Both states agree we can safely give anglers an additional  four days of fishing above the dam with little risk to the resource.”

The extension does not apply to salmon fishing below the dam, which has been closed since April 23 pending the run update. By then, anglers had taken about 70 percent of their initial quota of upriver chinook for that stretch of the river – most during the last week of fishing.

Above Bonneville Dam, boat and bank anglers are allowed to fish from the Tower Island powerlines to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from the powerlines downriver to Bonneville Dam.

Anglers fishing those areas can keep two marked hatchery adult chinook per day. All wild, unmarked chinook must be released unharmed.

Idaho steelheading closes; anglers await chinook

FISHING — Idaho's spring steelhead fishing season closes today in most waters.

The Little Salmon, from its mouth upstream to the U.S. 95 Bridge at Smokey Boulder Road, remains open until May 15.

Meanwhile, the spring chinook fishing season opened April 22, but only about two dozen adults have been counted so far over Lower Granite Dam. 

Chorus frogs are nature’s windbags

WILDLIFE — The ponds at the Dishman Hills Natural Area are easy to find this time of year, since hikers can often hear them long before they see them.   Chorus frogs are in full song.

Outdoor photographers Jaime and Lisa Johnson had a similar experience near their Lincoln, Mont., home recently. The didn't just settle for listing to the chorus frogs call.  They made the very cool photo above to show how the little buggers make noise that can be heard for a long way off.    Here's Jaime's comment:

While on a hike this weekend, we happened upon a small lake. Actually, the reason we found the lake was we heard it. As we approached, it sounded like a thousand bull frogs croaking at the same time. It was almost deafening! When we got to the edge of the water, it all stopped. Nothing but silence.
 
We sat there for about a half hour and then one started croaking again, then two, then three…. Pretty soon hundreds were going at one time. Lisa and I were split up both one different sides of the lake looking for the frogs. We were frustrated… they were invisible! Finally, after about 15 more minutes we spotted one. To our surprise, all this noise from a frog that could fit on a nickel coin!
 
We were accepted by the frogs after the first hour, they seemed not to really care we were there. We probably sent 2 or 3 hours there and took hundreds of images – only looked at a few, but here are a couple to give you the idea. We’ve never seen frogs actually blow up like this before in person!

Angler dies after jumping into Waitts Lake

FISHING — An angler died on the opening day of the lowland lakes trout season in Washington when he jumped into a lake in northeast Washington to save his fishing rod.

The Stevens County sheriff’s office says the rod slipped out of the boat Saturday on Waitts Lake and the man went in after it without a life jacket.

News reports said others in the boat threw life jackets to him, but were unable to save him. Deputies believe he was unable to respond because of the shock of the cold water.

Ellensburg will be hot spot for fly fishing action

FLY FISHING — Fly fishers will find plenty of action in Ellensburg this weekend, and the won't have to put on their waders.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour
 
The 2012 “Fly Fishing Film Tour,” which already has been in Spokane and Sandpoint, will make a stop on Friday, (May 4) in Ellensburg. The event gets an angler's blood pumping with  music, unique destinations, and incredible fly fishing footage.
 
Location: Raw Space, 117 E. 4th Ave. Doors open at 6:30 PM, show at 8 PM. Tickets: $15.
 
2012 Washington Fly Fishing Fair
 
The annual Washington Fly Fishing Fair put on by the Federation of Fly Fishers runs Friday and Saturday (May 4-5), featuring more than 100 fly tiers, casting workshop and competitions, a number of fly fishing vendors, guides, and free seminars.
 
Location:  Kittitas Valley Event Center.

Dogs not welcome near South Hill bluff coyote den

WILDLIFE — Coyotes defending a den of pups are not tolerating dogs coming through their territory between High Drive and Hangman Creek.

After my story about a Thursday attack on a dog was published today, The Spokesman-Review has learned of at least three coyote attacks this week on dogs up to 80 pounds.

Coyotes generally weigh 30-45 pounds.

If you hike in the area above Qualchan Golf Course, keep your dog on a lease for awhile.

Read on for details.

Coyotes attack dogs on South Hill bluff trails

HIKING — A trio of aggressive coyotes took on two Labrador retrievers running loose with their owner on the South Hill bluff trails Thursday, sending one dog to the vet for a chest full of stitches.

Arch Harrison said one of the two dogs he was exercising — a Sarah — was attacked by three coyotes while they were walking on the popular bluff trails below High Drive and Manito Boulevard and just above the Creek at Qualchan Golf Course. (See map for area).

He wanted to warn other people who take their dogs to the bluffs.  Keeping dogs on leashes could help prevent similar encounters.

“They were fairly aggressive and although intimidated by me, they still kept coming back around,” Harrison said, wondering if there might be a den in the area.

(Indeed, read this follow-up blog post about the six pups the coyotes are defending!)

“I was able to get to Sarah before any real damage was done but as I was running up to the scene she was lying down on her belly with one coyote at her nose and another one at her tail.”

Harrison thought he got away unscathed until he got back and realized his other dog, Chewie, had tangled with the coyotes and suffered numerous bites and rips under his chest and legs.

“All his wounds were on the underside with minimal bleeding and so we did not notice until later,” Harrison said.

He added: “A trip to pet emergency cost slightly less than one month's house payment.”

Lake Roosevelt drawdown turns corner; levels heading up

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1231 feet this morning.

The spring runoff has begun and the level of Lake Roosevelt has begun rising. Over the next week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts the level will rise 1-2 feet per day.

See the Roosevelt current lake level chart.

Check here for the minimum boat launch elevations to determine which are out of water.

Hard to believe, but Spokane hasn’t always had moose

WILDLIFE — After reading my blog about the moose poaching case on Beacon Hill, a woman who lived in this area from the 50s through the 70s wrote to say she never knew there were moose around Spokane.

It's not she wasn't observant.  Moose are relative newcomers to the region, showing up roughly with the first big waves of Californians.

Washington's moose population has been slowly growing since the first confirmed moose sighting was made in Pend Oreille County in the early '50's. Wildlife research pegged about 60 moose in the northeast corner of the state in the early '70s.

The first moose hunting season was authorized in 1977 with just three permits, all for the northeast portion of Pend Oreille County.

This year, 150 moose hunting permits are being offered for a moose population estimated at more than 1,000 — although that estimate appears to have been made before the wolves gained a foothold in northeastern Washington in recent years.

Since the 90s, moose have spread into Stevens and Spokane counties and beyond, where they've been showing up in towns, in school yards, in swimming pools on a hot day. A few people have been charged by moose.  Some have had the misfortune of colliding with moose on area roads.  Heck, one calf fell through a window into the basement bedroom of a home in north Spokane.

 They've only been common for a couple of decades, but nowadays everybody in this area has a moose story.

Suspects named in Beacon Hill moose poaching case

SPOKANE— Two brothers suspected of illegally killing a cow moose with archery gear on the north side of Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley around April 10 have been identified from the search warrant served in the case by Washington Fish and Wildlife Police.

Donald Gilbrech and San Gilbrech will be charged with several counts pending the results of DNA testing on the 95 pounds of moose meat seized from the men, Spokane officers said, without referring to the suspects by name.

Also confiscated was deer meat and Don Gilbrech's SUV, which contained moose hair and blood, the case report said.

A limited number of coveted special permits are required for hunting moose in Washington and the seasons are held in late summer and fall.

Fish and Wildlife Department officials say tips from the public helped officers make the case against the Gilbrechs.

An animal welfare group had offered a $2,500 reward for tips that lead to a conviction in the case.

Officers said a worker near Beacon Hill had seen a cow moose in the area.  Circling birds later prompted the informant to check out the area, where a moose head, guts and hide were found.

A bow and arrow matching the arrowhead found on scene were seized at San Gilbrech's house, officers said.

Each man faces fines of about $5,000 if convicted on the various possible charges for killing the moose and deer, officers said.
  

Redden says Snake River dams should go

RIVERS — In an interview for a television broadcast, U.S. District Judge James A. Redden, who presided over the Northwest's biggest salmon lawsuit for nearly a decade, said the Snake River's four hydropower dams should be breached to help wild salmon.

Redden made the comments to  Idaho Public Television.

See the story in the Oregonian.
  

Elwha Dam is history

RIVERS — Ding Dong the Dam is Gone….

That's the report from Olympic National Park.  The decades-old project to remove Elwha Dam and return the Elwha River to the once flourishing run of jumbo chinook salmon has hit a milestone.

The dam is gone.  We have that much accomplish in a project that spans three presidential administrations.

See the photo and update from the Tacoma News-Tribune.  

New WA fishing rules out, but not valid until May 1

FISHING — Washington’s new 2012-2013 fishing regulations pamphlet is available online and coming to license dealers around the state.

The rules in the new pamphlet don't take effect until  May 1.

That means old rules apply to Saturday's season opener at many of the state's lowland lakes such as Williams and Fishtrap, although there aren't many changes affecting those waters.

Cheaper two-pole permit:  One change affecting anglers this season is the reduced rate for the two-pole fishing permit, which went into effect in September. The two-pole endorsement for selected waters  was reduced from $24.50 last year to $14.30.

The fee is only $5.50 for seniors 70 and older.

Naturalist presents Owl & Woodpecker exhibit at downtown library

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “The Owl and the Woodpecker,” an exhibit of insightful photos and information about  wonders of the bird world, will open at the Spokane Public Library starting Saturday  (April 28) through July 6.

This exhibit examines the intertwined life histories of owls and woodpeckers and their roles in defining and enriching their often-threatened habitats. It features 15 extraordinary images by award winning photographer Paul Bannick.

The photographs of owl and woodpecker species found in the Pacific Northwest are presented with text panels and vivid birdcalls and drumming sound recordings by audio-naturalist Martyn Stewart.

Bannick also is an author, conservationist, and Washington resident. The exhibit is based on his book, The Owl & the Woodpecker.

  • The library has scheduled a presentation by Paul Bannick on May 1 at 6:30 p.m. Bannick will have copies of his book, “The Owl and the Woodpecker,”  for sale and will stay to autograph books following his presentation.


The Burke Museum of Seattle sponsors the traveling exhibit while support for Bannick’s presentation is made possible by the Friends of Spokane Public Library.

Reduced rate offered at Idaho BLM sites to May 15

PUBLIC LANDS – Discounts on fees for popular North Idaho Bureau of Land Management recreation sites are available through May 15.

 The first fee increase since 2005 will start May 16 at areas around Lake Coeur d’Alene to help maintain the facilities.

 Daily rates will increase at Blackwell Island Recreation Area and the Mineral Ridge Launch area from $4 to $6 per day.   Tent camping at Mica Bay Boater Park, Killarney Lake Recreation Site, Huckleberry Campground and Windy Bay Boater Park will be $10 per night, a $2 increase.  

Trailer camping fees at  Huckleberry Campground along the St. Joe River will rise to $18 per night. 

Season passes for Blackwell Island and Mineral Ridge boat launches cost $30 at BLM’s office in Coeur d’Alene, but the fee will increase to $40 on May 16.  

Most recreation sites are open with the exception of the Blackwell Island Recreation Site.  Because opening the site depends on water levels, the tentative date is set for May 23.  

Lake CdA ranks among top 10 best bass lakes in USA

ANGLING — Bass fishing at Lake Coeur d'Alene is getting national attention this week as the North Idaho lake was listed No. 9 in Bassmaster magazine's list of the top 100 bass fishing lakes in the United States.

Only seven Northwest waters made the list determined by a panel of professional anglers and fishing writers.

The Columbia River is ranked No. 20.

Texas’s Falcon Lake, famous also for deadly attacks by Mexican pirates, topped the list.

Other Northwest waters making the top 100 ranks are:

45. Umpqua River, Oregon

65. Noxon Rapids, Montana

85. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho

91. Lake Sammamish, Washington

95. Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana

“The 100 Best Bass Lakes list was ranked using a variety of qualifiers,” the magazine editors say. “Department of Natural Resource representatives provided the five most productive lakes in each state based on electroshock surveys and angler catch rates. B.A.S.S. Federation Nation presidents offered top lake recommendations based on tournament catches, while conservation directors supplied details on lake accessibility and best fish stocking practices.”

Read on for the complete list of the top bass fishing waters in the United States in 2012 as rated by B.A.S.S. Federation Nation.

Video: Salmon angler loses battle with sea lion

FISHING — Sea lions on the lower Columbia River are learning to take advantage of rules requiring anglers to release wild chinook salmon.

The video above shows anglers netting a nice chinook. But as they readied to remove the hook and release the fish, a sea lion nearly pulled the man holding the net into the water. Eventually, the net snapped in pieces, and the sea lion swam away with the fish.

See the Portland TV news story.

9 X 8 bull elk is Pennsylvania state record

HUNTING — A bull elk killed by a hunter in Pennsylvania in 2011 has been confirmed as the state record by the Boone and Crockett Club.

An official measurer determined a final score of 442-6/8 B&C non-typical points, which ranks 9th among all non-typical elk in Boone and Crockett records.

William Zee of Doylestown, Pa., killed the elk while  hunting in Clearfield County, Pa.

The bull has nine points on the right antler and eight on the left. The antlers tally 190-3/8 on the right and 188-1/8 on the left, with 47-7/8 inside spread and 29-7/8 in abnormal points. The antlers are unusually wide—an impressive 69 inches at their widest point.

The Boone and Crockett scoring system is based on antler size and symmetry, and accepts only trophies taken in fair chase.

Since the early 1900s, the Boone and Crockett scoring system has been used to measure the success of wildlife conservation and management programs across North America.

Elk are native to Pennsylvania but had been extirpated by the late 1870s. Hunters and game commissioners in 1912 began discussing the idea of re-introducing the species. The following year, a shipment of 50 elk arrived by train from Yellowstone National Park. Half were released in Clinton County, half in Clearfield County.

By the late 1990s, the elk reintroduction and habitat restoration efforts began generating significant tourism, wildlife watching and hunting opportunities.

 Boone and Crockett recognizes 10 Pennsylvania bulls as records. Seven are non-typical elk with a minimum score of 385; three are typical elk with a minimum score of 360. All have been taken since 2003.

Trophy BC mountain goat verified as world record

TROPHY HUNTING — A Rocky Mountain goat taken by a hunter in 2011 in British Columbia has been named a world record for its species by the Boone and Crockett Club.

Kentucky resident, Troy M. Sheldon traveled to the Sitkine River region of British Columbia for a backpack mountain goat hunt with Hedi Gutfrucht of Northwest Ranching and Outfitting. On Oct. 8, 2011, the seventh day of the hunt, Sheldon dropped a billy that, after the required 60-day drying period scored 57-0/8 inches.

The official measurement by a panel of B&C judges announced today is 57-4/8.

The new world record goat surpasses the old mark – a tie between BC goats taken in 1949 and 1999 — by a substantial 6/8 of an inch.

Sheldon claimed his trophy using a Tikka T3 .270 WSM to make a 319-yard shot across a ravine.

 Costal British Columbia ranks #1 of all states, provinces, and regions for the total number of Boone and Crockett mountain goat entries. The province is home to more than half of the world’s mountain goat population. Trophy-class specimens have been trending upward each decade since the 1970s. 
  

Leadman Triathlon to descend on Silver Mountain

OUTDOOR COMPETITION — The 8th annual Leadman Triathlon will launch high on Silver Mountain on Saturday for a 13.4 mile triathlon down \and dirty race to Kellogg.

Athletes will start in five different heats, beginning on top of Kellogg peak at 11 a.m., descending 4,000 vertical feet to the finish line at Silver Mountain’s Gondola Village.

The race starts with a 50 yard sprint to the skis or board followed by a 1.2 mile high-speed slide to the bike transition near the midpoint of Chair 4.

Racers then start a 7.5 mile slush and mud downhill bike ride to uptown Kellogg. From there, it’s a 4.7 mile run through Galena Ridge to the finish under the Red Bull arch at the Silver Mountain parking lot.

“The best places to view the action are the ski to bike transition on the mountain, the bike to run transition point at Market and Main Street and the finish line,” says Karey Scholey, Event Director. “The first finishers will cross the finish line around 11:45.”

Info: (208) 783-1507.

The Silver Mountain Ski area will be open on Saturday (April 28), 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Spur of the moment: Turkey hunter scores big

HUNTING — Steve Solberg of Spokane was grousing in good humor on April 15 that he'd passed given his brother, Jeff, first shot at an opening day gobber then ended up coming home empty-handed himself.

“Seeing your brother finally bag a nice gobbler on opening day after 3 unsuccessful YEARS of hunting – priceless,” he said.

“Passing up on an easy shot to let your brother score – stupid?

“Maybe, but it was just great being in the woods again. My bird is still out there.

“My time will come.”

Indeed!  This week, Solberg's patience paide off with a bruiser tom.

“I was rewarded,” he said in an email with the photo above. “This was my biggest bird ever.”

The bird weighted more than 22 pounds, beard was 9 inches. But look at those spurs: 1-1/4 inches.

“Life is good!” Solberg said, noting that he has a placed pegged to take a kid this weekend.

Waging war: one weed at a time

TRAILS — I'm working late today, after taking the morning off to give a little TLC to a local hiking-biking route.

Portions of the route were overwhelmed by spotted knapweed a few years ago before I started spot-spraying the weeds as they emerge in spring. Now the route looks good, and I'm sure most users have no idea how miserable it was to walk or mountain bike the path in its infested state.

Maintenance is still required.

Today I spot-sprayed 2 gallons of herbicide on knapweed florets one little squirt at a time.  I'll have to head out two or three more times to get it all.  Then I'll pull the survivors a few here and there during morning walks with the dogs.

That's one way to win a war that must be fought.

Steelhead running average over dams; many more to come

FISHING — Steelhead aren't making that big early spirt up the Snake and into Idaho this year.

The run numbers over Both Bonneville — as well as the few hundred a day that were marching over Lower Granite last week — are hovering around the five-year average.

Much more fun to come.

Predicted runoff could be good timing for Idaho salmon anglers

SALMON FISHING — Rain predicted for this week is forecast to cause a big surge of runoff in the region's rivers.  It won't be pleasant for a lot of people.  But the silver lining could be tamer rivers when the late-arriving spring chinook salmon finally get up over Lower Granite Dam and head into Idaho.  

Read on for a report and thoughful analysis from Amy Sinclair of  Exodus Wilderness Adventures and fishing guides in Riggins.

Sprague Lake booting out fat rainbows

FISHING — Some anglers know they don't have to wait for the “opening day” at many of the region's lowland trout lakes.

Sprague Lake is one of many lakes open for fishing year round. You'll travel a long way to find fish that are any more robhust.

Tom Shellenberger, Mike Barnett, and Mike Shellenberger, pictured above, trolled plugs on Sunday for a nice stringer of fat rainbows running 18-20 inches. 

“It's going to be anothe great season,” said Scott Haugen, operator of Four Seasons Campground, which opened  for customers last week on Sprague's northwest shore.

Drawdown bares Roosevelt shores; driving not allowed

RESERVOIRS — From all indications, the Lake Roosevelt drawdown will continue into May with a possibility of lake elevations going to 1220 feet or lower. That's grim for anglers who will see another year of fish pouring over the dam and out of the reservoir.  Full pool is 1290 feet above sea level.

Expanses of bare shoreline will be showing in upcoming weeks. 

As lake level goes down, boat launch ramps will begin to close with all ramps being closed if the elevation goes below 1222 feet. 

In order to prevent archaeological and resource damage, driving on the drawdown is not allowed, Lake Roosvelt National Recreation Area officials say.

Area fly fishing shops offer clinics, classes

FLY FISHING —  Swede’s Fly Shop, 1611 N. Ash St. in Spokane, is joining the Orvis Co. in a free series of basic fly fishing and fly tying clinics.

Fly Fishing 101 classes will be offered 10 a.m.-noon on the first Saturday of each month starting May 5 through Oct. 6, said shop owner Allen Peterson

Basic fly-tying sessions will be offered on the same days, noon-4 p.m.

The 101 course involves rigging rods and casting instruction.

Discount coupons and free membership into fly fishing groups also are offered. Info: 323-0500.

OTHER FLY-FISHING ACTIVITIES

Steve Moran Custom Rods is offering personal rod-building classes

Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley has a list of fishing technique classes for beginners as well as accomplished fly fishers for April and May. Fees range $20-$30.

Click “continue reading” to see the details on the Silver Bow offerings.

Big turnout Sunday to spiff up Dishman Hills

PUBLIC LANDS — ‎547 volunteers, with a boost from the Washington Trails Association, turned out Sunday to pick up, plant and route trails in the Dishman Hills Natural Area.

The project is backed by a $5,000 grant from REI to the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

$73,000 in fines for wolf poaching: a slap on the wrist?

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Three members of a Methow Valley family who raised havoc with the Lookout Pack, the first re-population of wolves discovered in Washington, were fined a total of more than $73,000 in plea agreements entered in Spokane federal court.

Some conservation groups are making headlines saying they think those penalties weren't enough, arguing the family members should get jail time.

Maybe, maybe not.

But perhaps the Seattle PI online gives us a perspective on how these issues are viewed on Western Washington. There's nothing particularly wrong with the story, but the headline caught my attention:

WOLF KILLERS IN METHOW GET OFF WITH PROBATION

 

What do you think? 

Is accurate to suggest a family that's had to pay $73,000 in fines and restitution is “getting off with probation?”

Spokane adventurers detail 15 weeks in Alaska

ADVENTURING — Spokane adventurers Debbie and Bill Pierce will present a free program about their 15-week, 12,000-mile summer trip of kayaking, fishing and wildlife photography in Alaska tonight (April 23), 7 p.m., at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland Ave.

“Carrying kayaks and mountain bikes on our conversion van,  we explored as many roads, trails and waterways as possible,” Debbie Pierce said. “With no real plan or time commitment,  we used  the fireweed as our only timekeeper-our summer's clock.

“Traveling from mid-June to late September, we watched  the blossoms climb up the stem of the  tall plant, knowing that (according to Alaska folklore), summer was over when the petals  hit the top.”

She said their photos include some of Alaska's amazing scenery, “including the beautiful  mountains and wild rivers, the rugged coastlines and magnificent wildlife.”

The program is sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Reardan Audubon wildlife viewing enhancements to be dedicated

WILDLIFE WATCHING – The Reardan Audubon Lake Wildlife Area just north of US 2 at Reardan, is being enhanced with information kiosks that will be dedicated April 29 in a public ceremony starting at 2 p.m.

The 277-acre wildlife area was acquired in 2006 with state grant funds and support from Spokane Audubon Society and the Inland Northwest Land Trust.  The wetlands, seasonal ponds, grasslands, channeled scablands and 80-acre lake support about 200 bird and other wildlife species, 12 of special concern in Washington, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Lincoln County area was popular with birdwatchers long before public acquisition. A hotspot for spring migrants, birders put it on their annual field trips list, calling the wetlands Audubon Lake.

The ceremony will be held at the wildlife area’s southside parking lot. From the intersection of US 2 and State Route 231 in the town of Reardan, go north to Railroad Avenue, then drive east to Audubon Way. 

At 3 p.m. refreshments will be available at Reardan Community Building, 110 N. Lake St., courtesy of Friends of Reardan Audubon Lake.

Rathdrum angler wins $100,000 bass tourney

TOURNAMENT FISHING  — After a trip to a hospital to have a hook removed from his pinky, Brandon Palaniuk, 24, of Rathdrum powered forward through three days of fishing to dominate and win the Bassmaster Elite Series TroKar Quest tournament at Bull Shoals Lake, Ark., this weekend.

He'll have $100,000 in the bank after today's weigh-in, but that’s not going to change his lifestyle. He planned to spend tonight sleeping in the back of his pickup, just as he has every night this week and during most other tournaments.

 “It’s just easy,” said Palaniuk, who beds down in a bed  under the canopy of his pickup near launch sites. “I’ve got power and a shower, and it’s close to the water. That’s all I need. And it’s free.

“A hundred thousand dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to,” he added.

Read on for more details on Palaniuk's big win.

Day-hiking Spokane on a full-bloom Sunday

HIKING — My Honey and I were city-hiking along the Spokane River today. I caught Meredith among blossoming trees near the Ft. George Wright Cemetery, with a backdrop of Mount Spokane still shrouded in snow.

Frigid waters greet Lightning Creek paddlers

KAYAKING — The chilly scene in the photo above is the feeder creek Todd Hoffman and two other kayakers used today to launch their boats before  paddling downstream into Lightning Creek in North Idaho.

I'll guarantee they weren't wearing shorts and flip flops when they got into their boats.

Beacon Hill moose poaching suspects nabbed

POACHING — An anonymous informant could soon be $2,500 richer after leading wildlife agents to moose poachers.

At least two suspects are being investigated for illegally killing a cow moose on the north side of Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley around April 10.

Washington Fish and Wildlife police report they have confiscated 95 packages of moose meat and the archery equipment used in the moose poaching.

Under a search warrant, officers also seized the vehicle they suspect was used for transporting the moose off the popular recreation area east of Esmeralda Golf Course.

Formal charges are pending results of DNA testing on the meat, said Madonna Luers, the agency’s spokeswoman in Spokane.

An anonymous tip led officers to the evidence, she said.

If the suspects are convicted, the informant is eligible for a $2,500 reward offered by a national animal welfare group.

Hot weather, cold water dangerous combo on area waters

RIVERS — Water in area rivers and lakes may look tempting during warmer weather forecast for the weekend, but experts say rivers and lakes remain deadly cold.

Cold water immersion can render a person helpless in minutes regardless of sunny skies and warm air temps. Hypothermia can kill you in a few minutes more.

Experienced paddlers wear wet suits or dry suits in cold waters and launch in groups to help each other out in case of unplanned swims.

At least five non-motorized boating fatalities have been recorded by Washington State Parks since March 17, the highest in any year since 2002.

On April 1, a Gonzaga University student died from hypothermia suffered after his kayak capsized in Rock Lake. One man is dead after being swept away in the Spokane River this month; a capsized canoeist remains missing.

Useful links:

Lake Roosevelt levels continue dropping 1.5 feet a day

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1232.5 feet at noon today and will continue declining about 1.5 feet a day through the rest of the month to reach the flood control elevation of 1220.2. 

The plan could change, since there's still an above-average snowpack remaining in the upper Columbia River drainages.

 Inflows into Lake Roosevelt are expected to increase this week.

See the Roosevelt current lake level chart.

Spring Canyon and Seven Bays will be the ony sure bets for boat launching by Sunday.

Check here for the minimum boat launch elevations to determine which are out of water.

Three events focus on Ice Age Floods

WILD LANDS — Publication of new guidebooks is revving up interest in cataclysmic floods that swept through North Idaho and Eastern Washington some 15,000 years ago.

Read on for details about different upcoming presentations on the Ice Age Floods as well as pre-registration info for May field trips sponsored by the Cheney-Spokane Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute.

The trips are filling up, organizers say.

Take your best shot at natural landmark photo contest

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — People in the Inland Northwest are sitting pretty for participation in a photography contest associated with the 50th anniversary of the National Natural Landmarks Program.

Steptoe Butte is among the closest national natural landmarks to Spokane, but many other photogenic sites are available within a day's drive.

Click here to see winning photos from last year's contest, which are featured on the Landmarks Program's 2012 calendar.

So far, the country has recongized 591 national landmarks representing an array of natural features, including dinosaur tracks and fossils at the Morrison-Golden Fossil Areas, Colo., and  bioluminescent waters at Puerto Mosquito, Puerto Rico. Travel to Arizona to see the national landmark highlighting the largest impact crater known in the United States at Barringer Meteor Crater.

National natural landmarks include features on private, state, municipal, and federal lands. Program participation is voluntary and not all landmark sites are open to the public.

South Hill Bluff trail maintenance dates set

TRAILS — Last Saturday a hard-working group of 20 turned out to work on Bluff trails.

The many, many more people who use the trails owe them a tip of the hat.

They did trail maintenance and prepared to re-align a trail that is steep and highly erosive. The new route will be more stable and user-friendly for hikers and mt bikers.

To complete the task, the Friends of the Bluffs are encouraging more people to join some evening work parties.

The first two will be Tuesday April 24 and Wednesday May 2.

Join the group from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to work off the stress of the day (and perhaps adjourn to the Rocket Market afterwards).

Meet at the Bernard/High Dr trail head and bring/wear hiking boots, work clothes, work gloves, and bring water.

Info: robertsd@wsu.edu

Kokanee “stocked” in streets of Colville

FISHING — Kokanee by the bucket full were in the streets of Colville Wednesday afternoon after a truck from the Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery had a close call with a motorist at the town's roundabout.

The truck belonging to the Spokane Tribe was transporting fish to be raised to larger size at the Sherman Creek Hatchery operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Here's the scoop — an accurate word in this case — from Tim Peone, Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery manager:

Apparently an errant “young lady” driver unbeknownst of the roundabout rules pulled out in front of our planting truck causing the driver to lock up the brakes. The sloshing water broke a hinge off a lid spilling 24.7 pounds of kokanee @ 14.4 fish/pound equaling roughly 356 fish out of a load of 12,000 fish. 

Yup I made him pick them all up (with the help of city crew, I heard).

From all reports, the kokanee were collected of the street before the area walleye anglers could gather them up for bait.

Pend Oreille River pike issue: updates, background, correction

FISHERIES — I've received several phone calls and messages following today's update on the Pend Oreille pike fishery in my Outdoors column.

I've enjoyed catchign northern pike as much as many of you, but several pike enthusiasts say I'm a spokesman for the tribes who are actively controlling walleye and northern pike.

Well, I'm not. I'm merely reporting the numbers and facts as I get them. I've also reported the opposition to the efforts and the rates of fishing interest based on pike increases.  It's there and more will come.

What my critics really mean is that I'm not ranting on their behalf. 

These are the same people who are telling me that angry pike anglers are out there moving northern pike into all sorts of trout waters.  “There are pike everywhere now,” one man told me today.

Great. 

Pike have been moved illegally to infest about 100 waters in Montana and people have been moving them illegally for years in Idaho.

Maybe the top question is this: If these selfish pitiful excuses for sportsmen have illegally moved northern pike into every water imaginable, what more do they want?

I'll keep reporting the facts and I'm keen to share different opinions, but don't ask me to respect anglers of that ilk.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

The newspaper print version of my Thursday outdoors column has a confusing error as updated the current effort to reduce the number of northern pike in the Pend Oreille River behind Box Canyon Dam.

I've corrected the error in my column as it's posted on the web.

In giving the number for the bycatch of non-target species, I substituted “northern pike” for “yellow perch.”  Pike, of course, are the targt species.

Here are links to some of the previous stories and background I've compiled about the northern pike issue in the Pend Oreille River:

April 12: Anglers encouraged to fish for pike.  (Includes public boat launch guide for Box Canyon Reservoir)

April 8Gillnets set to remove 5,700 pike from Pend Oreille River.

March 29: Officials take stance against northern pike, ask for angler help.

Feb. 12: Northern pike forecast: fewer, farther between.

April 17, 2011: Biologist ponder options for PDO River pike boom.

April 17, 2011: Pike prompt three surveys on Pend Oreille River.

June 6, 2012: Pike boom in Pend Oreille River.

June 22, 2008: Pike explosion lures anglers, researchers.

REI prompts flurry of volunteer work at recreation area sites

Popular recreation sites around Spokane will be getting a major spring facelift this weekend from volunteer efforts supported by grants totaling $20,000 from Recreational Equipment, Inc.

Projects the Spokane outdoor equipment store is supporting in partnership with local groups include:

Centennial Trail, Saturday 9 a.m. – The 20th annual Unveil the Trail event, supported by a $5,000 REI grant to the Friends of the Centennial Trail, taps volunteer groups to spruce up sections of the 39-mile paved trail along the Spokane River. Preregister to join a group and get a free lunch, 624-7188.

Mirabeau Point boat access, Saturday, 9 a.m. – A $10,000 REI grant to the Spokane River Forum funded an overhaul of the Spokane River access for rafts, canoes and kayaks fall. Volunters plan to finish the work and prepare the area for hydroseeding, which is being funded by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Dishman Hills Natural Area, Sunday, 1 p.m. – Hundreds of volunteers already are signed up for the Earth Day work project to pick up litter, restore habitat, improve trails and other projects based out of Camp Caro in Spokane Valley.  The project is backed by a $5,000 grant to the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association. Preregister for t-shirt and food at www.rei.com/Spokane.

Sandpoint nets Fly Fishing Film Tour Friday

FISHING — The 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour, which has been traveling across the country and revving up enthusiastic audiences since February, is coming back to the Inland Northwest.

Portions of 11 films are compiled into a 2-hour show set for April 20 starting at 7 p.m. at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint.

See an interview with details about one of the most compelling films on the tour.

Win a forest photo contest without leaving town

FORESTS — The U.S. Forest Service has announced its My Neighborhood Forest photo contest, celebrating America’s urban and community forests.

The Grand Prize winner will receive $200 in outdoor gear courtesy of the National Forest Foundation.

The contest, which runs through July 22, seeks to highlight the natural beauty that spring and summer bring to U.S. neighborhoods, communities and cities, as well as the crucial role of trees in the places we call home.

Visit Challenge.gov for more details on the prizes and contest rules.

Crash sets back jet boat races, but boats back on Clearwater today

RIVERS — The final two legs of the 2012 Toyota Weaver Seed World Jet Boat Championship races on Tuesday were cancelled after breakdowns and a spectacular crash.

Racing was scheduled to resume today with the field of competitors thinned to just a handful on Clearwater River courses involving two 40-mile legs between Orofino and Lewiston.

  • Click “continue reading” below for details on the crash from the Lewiston Tribune.

The races got of to a good start on the St. Joe River last weekend. Promoters say about 5,000 people were spread along miles of river to watch the boats roar by. The racing schedule continued to the River based out of Lewiston, and is scheduled to move next weekend to the Salmon River based out of Riggins.

The S-R had a story documented the economic activity the two days of racing encouraged in St. Maries.

Community celebrations and races take place over a nine-day period.

Snow being cleared off North Cascades Highway

MOUNTAIN PASSES —  Crews are working on Highway 20 to clear the North Cascades Highway — the great recreational road between Mazama and Marblemount, through North Cascades National Park.

Snow removal began March 26, with crews working on both the east and west sides of Washington Pass.

  • The east side crew has cleared the roadway to Cutthroat Creek.
  • The west side crew has progressed approximately eight miles above their starting point at the Diablo Gate.

Progress updates are updated here.

Video: Local bowhunter shares turkey hunt

HUNTING — Taking a wild turkey gobbler can be difficult for a hunter with a shotgun, but think about the chances of spooking an incoming tom when you have to draw a bow.

Spokane-area hunter Chad Berry shows how it's done in a short, sweet video.

The spring gobbler season opened Sunday.

Spruce grouse: Wildlife romancing is colorful spectacle

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Even a native bird that's mostly black, white and gray can be spectacular during the spring mating season. 

Check out this spruce grouse sporting the vibrant red “eyebrows” that light up as the male displays to attract a mate. 

See more great shots of the bird photographed by Washington birder/photographer Kanh Tran.

Canoe or kayak best way to see this waterfall

WATERFALLS — It's been a great, wet spring to experience the power waterfalls from the Spokane River in downtown Spokane to Palouse Falls near the Snake River and many more.

I've written about the some of the hiking possibilities for many of these falls, including those on BLM land at Hog Canyon (near Fishtrap Lake) and Rock Creek/Escure Ranch.

How about a canoe trip to visit the small but intimate Exley Falls at Horseshoe Lake in Pend Oreille County?

The lake's public access is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, so a Discover Pass is required, or the Vehicle Access Pass that comes with a hunting and fishing license.

Younger Twisp ranchers also plead guilty in wolf case

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Tom D. White, 37, and his wife, Erin J. White, 37, of Twisp, Wash., have entered guilty pleas in plea agreements involving illegal conduct relating to endangered wolves.

Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, just announced the deal in Spokane.

On April 4, William D. White, 62, pleaded guilty in the same case to conspiring to kill a protected wolf and send its pelt to a friend in Canada in return for the friend's help in illegally killing a moose.

The older White admitted guilt to the charges of conspiracy to take an endangered species, conspiracy to transport endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife. The importation charge stemmed from the moose, which White brought back to the Methow Valley from Canada, along with a whitetail deer.

As part of the overall agreement, William White was fined $38,500 and lost possession of a trap, two guns and any remaining wolf parts in his possession.

Today White's son, Tom White plead guilty to killing two endangered gray wolves in May and December of 2008.

Erin White pleaded guilty on two counts involving exporting an endangered species.

The younger Whites each face maximum penalties of up to one year in prison for each offense. But under the agreement, Tom White will pay fines and restitution totaling $30,000 and forfeit the firearm used to kill the wolves.

Erin White has agreed to pay $5,000 in fines.

The U.S. Attorney is recommending probation for both of the younger Whites.

A sentencing hearing has been set for July 11.

House approves Sportsmen’s Heritage Act; not all sportsmen approve

HUNTING/FISHING — Safari Club International and the NRA are praising the U.S. House of Representatives today for passing H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, advancing the controversial legislation to the Senate.

The legislation has good parts on which most sportsmen can agree.  But it also has divisive components that warrant sending it back to the drawing board.  Sportsmen really don't need any more divisiveness. We see how little gets done in Congress under those conditions. Why not learn from that?

Read on for details about the act and why reasonable sportsmen should contact their senators to kill it.

Forest Service Avery Creek Cabin on CdA River available for rent

FISHING — A prize overnight accommodation on the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River has just become available for rental reservations.

Starting May 18, the historic Avery Creek Cabin, recently renovated, will join 13 cabins and lookouts available for rent on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Avery Creek Cabin is especially attractive to fly fishers because of its proximity to a blue-ribbon catch-and-release cutthroat trout stream, 20 miles upstream from Interstate 90 at Kingston.

The cabin's rental season runs May 18-November 18, depending on weather. But reservations can be made months in advance online at www.reserveusa.com.

Read on for details.

Snow’s gone from area, but not snowy owls

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Most people interested in birds know there was an unusually high number of snowy owls that migrated south from the arctic to winter along the northern United States this season.

People were devoting a great deal of effort into taking advantage of the opportunity to see the majestic owls.

But two Spokane birders stumbled into one the other day, a winter leftover among spring migrants.  Here's their photographic proof above, and the report below.

 My husband and I were driving home from taking pictures of the upper falls when the sun was coming up on Saturday, April 14, 2012. As we turned on to Lincoln Road we always watch the power poles because we sometimes see a red-tail hawk sitting there. However, this time we noticed a female Snowy Owl on the pole.

We hurried home to change out lenses. Then drove back to where we saw the Snowy Owl. We spent time earlier this year looking for Snowy Owls over around the Davenport, Washington area without any luck the last few years. This year the Snowy Owl came to us.

Snowy Owls come down to our area in the winter and go back north to the colder area in the spring. This bird is probably a female as adult males are totally white. Picture was taken with a Canon T1i with a 400 mm Canon L lens. We used a tripod.

Jamie Dahlke
Spokane, WA

Idaho salmon season opening; chinook fashionably late

SALMON FISHING — Though the fishing season for Chinook salmon opens on Sunday, April 22, in the Clearwater River, Snake River, Little Salmon and lower Salmon rivers, this year’s run is appears to be one of the latest on record.

No fish had crossed Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River as of April 15.

And as the chart shows, fewer than average are over Bonneville Dam, the first dam the fish encounter coming up the Columbia.

Centennial Trail cleanup set for Saturday

TRAILS – Volunteers will be gathering all along the Spokane River Centennial Trail on Saturday to wail on weeds, pick up litter and sweep it clean.

To join the group, and enjoy the free lunch, preregister by Friday for the 20th annual Friends of the Centennial Trail “Unveil the Trail” event.

REI has contributed $5,000 to cover the cost of park rental, giveaways, prizes, food and other event costs.

Info: 624-7188.

Spring is toxic to migrating tundra swans stopping here

WILDLIFE — It's been well publicized over the years, but we can't let people forget that our lower Coeur d'Alene river basin is a toxic stew for migrating waterfowl, thanks to the waste of a century of upstream mining.

An eyewitness to a swan death report the observation complete with a photo, posted on Huckleberries online.

Idaho devotes week to getting kids outside and active

OUTDOORS — Citing surveys that indicate kids are spending  up to 30 hours a week dialed in to video games, computers other technology, a several business, agencies and volunteer groups have organized a nifty schedule of free or low-cost outdoor activites and clinics April 21-28 based out of Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls.

Unplug and Be Outside” is promoted by a statewide coalition of agencies and businesses founded in 2008 to “connect children with nature in Idaho, from backyards to mountaintops.”

Activities include archery,fishing, fly tying, frisbee golf, art classes, tennis and golf lessons, preschool storytimes, bike rides, and many, many more programs designed to get kids and adults moving! 

Children will receive passport cards. Those who participate in 3 or more activities will be entered into a drawing to win great prizes, including fishing rods, backpacks, Idaho State Parks pass, water bottles and more!

Click here for details and a schedule of events.

Bear aware: Tips for people who live in bear country

WILDLIFE — This period when bears are emerging from dens and snow still prevents them from dispersing to the high country is prime time for conflicts with humans who live in rural areas.

Bottom line: the bears are hungry. Eliminate food sources that might lure them into trouble, and most conflicts can be avoided.

Following are tips for people who live in bear country from the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project:

At your home or ranch

  • Do not leave human food outside where bears can find it.
  • Store garbage indoors or in bear-resistant garbage cans and do not put garbage out until shortly before the pick-up service arrives.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and free from grease.  Store them inside, if possible.
  • Make sure that bird feeders, birdseed, suet, and hummingbird mixes are not accessible to a bear.
  • Keep pets inside at night, if possible.
  • Remember: If bears have gotten into your garbage or livestock feed, remove the attractant immediately.  Repeated use of a site by bears is much harder to stop than a single instance.

Washington expands elk hunting, rejects electronic duck decoys

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Perhaps it's a hint of the difference wolves can make. While Idaho cut back on elk hunting opportunity for this fall, Washington — where wolf expansion is still in its infancy — is expanding elk hunting permits.

But the Fish and Wildlife Commission wasn't game for proposals to allow electronic devices for hunting. During its meeting Friday and Saturday in Olympia, the commission left intact the statewide ban on using electronic decoys to attract waterfowl and illuminated knocks on hunting arrows.

Click “continue reading” for more details on the commission's decisions for 2012-2014 hunting seasons, plus info on new wildlife lands purchase in Asotin and Okanogan counties and the landowner hunting program approved for the Turnbull area.

Spokane Mountaineer details Middle East, Africa travels tonight

TRAVEL — Meri Murphy of the Spokane Mountaineers will detail her the post retiremed trip she made — for eight months! — in the Middle East and Africa during a free program tonight, 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6011 E. Mansfield.

 Murphy departed Spokane one week after retiring for a low-cost adventure in Middle East (2 months) — Turkey, Syria (whew!), Lebanon, Dubai, Oman.

Then Africa: (6 months): South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania/Zanzibar, Rwanda.

She'll show her slides and talk about the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly.

Her one word summary of her journey: “Fabulous.”

Hikers, bikers have free access to Glacier Park roads

PUBLIC LANDS — Glacier Nationa Park has a special incentive for walkers and cyclists for the next month or so, but especially next week when ntrance fees to Glacier National Park and the nearly 400 National Park Sites across the country will be waived during National Park Week, April 21-29.  

At the same time, plows have begun clearing the roads toward Logan Pass. While motor vehicles are still prohibited, bicyclers and walkers can go progressively farther behind the locked gates as plowing advances.

Currently, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open to motorized traffic from the West Entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge and from the St. Mary Entrance to Rising Sun.  Hiker/biker access is available for 5.5 miles from the Lake McDonald Gate to Avalanche while the road plow is working.  

This weekend, April 21-22, no restrictions are anticipated for hiker/biker access on the west side or east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  The Camas Road is open and the Two Medicine Road on the east side is currently open to Running Eagle Falls.  

Weather conditions in the park can vary greatly from local valley locations, and road status can change depending on weather conditions and snow plowing activities.

Click here to check park conditions and the progess of the plows, or call  (406) 888-7800.

Additional entrance fee-free dates during the year will be June 9 (Get Outdoors Day), September 29 (National Public Lands Day), and November 10 to 12 (Veterans Day weekend).

World jet boat races bring thunder to Salmon, Snake, St. Joe

RIVERS — The 2012 Toyota Weaver Seed World Jet Boat Championship races got their start on the St. Joe River last weekend. Promoters say about 5,000 people were spread along miles of river to watch the boats roar by.

The S-R had a story today documenting the economic activity the two days of racing encouraged in St. Maries.

Community celebrations and races take place over a nine-day period.

Read on for the racing schedule next week on the Snake river based out of Lewiston, and the following weekend on the Salmon River based out of Riggins. 

After years of gobbler seasons, they can still get better

HUNTING — At least 8 gobblers raising hell in every direction from my stand from 5:15 a.m. to 6:25 a.m. this morning, opening day of the spring wild turkey season. 

Then the woods virtually went silents — except for the damned flicker that kept coming by to drum on a nearby bird box and establish its territory.

At 7:25, my calls were answered in one of the best two minutes of turkey hunting in my career.

Shot this boy strutting with my decoy as at least three hens were within 15 feet of me. Had to wait a bit longer as a hen walked in at 10 feet and stopped with its head directly in line with the bead on my shotgun and the gobbler.

Could have bagged a second gobbler, but … naw.

Awesome morning of turkey hunting, just when I was thinking it was getting old.

The night before the hunt: Gobble, gobble

HUNTING — This is where I have permission to hunt for the spring gobbler season. Tomorrow morning, half an hour before sunrise: Game on!

County buys 269 acres for Glenrose conservation area

CONSERVATION — The Dream Trail through the Dishman Hills of Spokane Valley has come 269 acres closer to reality this week with the purchase of two parcels in the Glenrose area.

Two adjoining parcels were purchased with $473,500 from the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program plus $257,500 donated by the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association, said John Bottelli, County Parks assistant director.

“DHNAA exceeded their original pledge by ultimately covering more than the county's share of the Stone Estate acreage by $35,000,” Bottelli said. “Their $257,500 represents 54 percent of the purchase price and is an incredible accomplishment for any non-profit!”

The Dishman Hills group scraped up the money and secured the property before other interests could lock it up privately.

Click here for the details on this great acquisition for future generations and how it fits into the big picture for maintaining wildlife movements and public access to wildlands in our ever-more-populated region.

Lake Roosevelt levels dropping 1.5 feet a day

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1241.90 this moring and continuing to drop about 1.5 feet a day. That rate forecast to continue at least through the rest of the month to reach the flood control elevation of 1220.2.

The plan could change, since there's still an above-average snowpack remaining in the upper Columbia River drainages.

Next week the inflows into Lake Roosevelt are expected to increase.

See the Roosevelt current lake level chart.

Check here for the minimum boat launch elevations to determine which are out of water.

  

Asian clams suck, and they’re in Lake Pend Oreille

INVASIVE SPECIES — A dive team to assess an outbreak of invasive asian clams in the Hope area of Lake Pend Oreille is being organized for Monday by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and Bonner County.

The clams were detected recently during the pre-runoff lake drawdown.

This is serious business. Somebody let down their guard and brought these clams into the lake, probably by not cleaning their boat after using it outside the area.

The clams multiply fast, suck in algae and excrete high-nutrient pellets that can foul water and turn those famous clear-water bays green.

Apparently we need to crank up the penalties to thousands of dollars and JAIL TIME to get the message out.

Idaho Department of Agriculture’s boat inspection stations, open since March 1, already have caught 11 boats entering Idaho carrying invasive mussels into Idaho.

The department has set up 15 inspection stations across the state as a line of defense against the invasion of zebra or quagga mussels.

If you think it's an inconvenience, you're not educated on the subject.

Jake break: some turkeys safe from Sunday season opener

HUNTING — These wild turkeys feel free to trot through the Ponderosa neighborhood in Spokane Valley even though Washington's general turkey hunting season opens Sunday.

The front-runners are clearly jakes, as indicated by the short “beards” protruding from their breasts.

This little neighborhood parade (photo by Bob Bartlett) illustrates why non-hunters look at you like you're a nut when you get all loaded up with hundreds of dollars worth of equipment to go after a spring gobbler. 

Angler survey underway at Potholes, Moses Lake

FISHING — An angler survey is underway at Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir in Grant County.

 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife surveyors are randomly selecting anglers at various access to learn more about the two fisheries. 

Ceel clerks are checking anglers about 16 days a month through October.

Questions they ask include time spent fishing, fish targeted and caught (both harvested and released), fish lengths, and county of residence.  

This effort is the first comprehensive creel survey on these waters in at least five years.

Idaho lawmakers made wise choice on ATVs and hunting

OFF-ROAD VEHICLES — Idaho recently came within an eyelash of stripping the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of the authority to regulate the use of all-terrain vehicles on public land during hunting seasons.

An editorial in the Idaho Mountain Express notes that if the state Senate had not stopped a measure that had been approved by the House, Fish and Game would have had no say on where hunters could operate ATVs during big-game hunting seasons.

That would have been a big mistake, the opinion piece suggests. 

Read on for the editorial's reasoning.

Click here for the Idaho Fish and Game Department's web page on ATV issues.

Kayaking collaborators plot Spokane River play spots

PADDLING — An open online collaboration is plotting a map of kayaking play spots on the Spokane River, complete with directions and a few sparse details.

Check it out.

Spring chinook season extended on Lower Columbia; fish delayed

SALMON FISHING — With heavy runoff creating poor river conditions, the spring chinook salmon fishing season on the lower Columbia River has been extended through April 22.

The eight-day extension may give anglers a better shot at fish that appear to be delayed off the mouth of the Columbia.

Read on for details.

Tribute shoot set at Landt Farms Sporting Clays

SHOOTING — The Jerry Townsend Tribute Shoot is set for April 21 at Landt Farms Sporting Clays.

The “fun shoot” starts at 10 a.m.  Cost $45, includes lunch.

Preregister by calling (509) 464-2070.

Townsend is owner of Pheasant Valley shooting preserve near LaCrosse.

Westport crab-fest is a feast of fun

Feeling crabby?  Head to the Washington Coast.

The 25th Annual Westport Crab Races and Crab Feed is set for April 21-22.

Tap a leggy crab of good breeding and put it on the race course against other competitiors.

Or soak a crab pot for a chance at winning cash prizes. Thanks to the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association, the Westport Marina has been seeded with ocean-sized Dungeness for the Saturday and Sunday Crab Derby, with a top prize of $1,000.

Some people come just to feast on crab, which is served a variety of ways.

I notice the promoters still offer the option of hot dogs for kids.

Get all the info here.

Or call the Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center toll free, (800) 345-6223.

See how many trout go into your favorite fishing lake

FISHING — Washington has a wide range of detailed fishing information online.

For instance, if you wonder how many fish will be dumped in your favorite lowland trout lake before Washington's April 28 lowland lake opener, check out the stocking reports posted by the Washington Department of Fish and wildlife. 

Here are some links to check out:

  • Fish stocking details, by county and lake: Click here.
  • 2012 Washington Fishing Prospects, with tips on fishing areas, listed by county and water:  Click here.
  • Water access site locations: Click here.
  • “Fishing In Washington” sport fishing rules: Click here.

Time running out on early discount for Lake Roosevelt boat launch permits

NATIONAL PARKS — Boaters and anglers can save money buy buying their season boat launch permit for Lake Roosevelt before the end of April.

A launch permit is required at all designated National Park Service-managed ramps regardless of the type of vessel.

Without a season permit, boaters pay on site a $6 fee for a permit valid for seven days.

2011 season launch permits cost $30 if purchased by April 30. After that, the cost increases to $40.

Federal Golden Age, Golden Access and Interagency Senior or Access Pass cardholders, fees get 50 percent off.

Read on for details on where to purchase the boat launch permits.

Lake Roosevelt levels continue downward trend

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was about 1244 feet this morning and the Bureau of Reclamation says it will continue dropping at the rate of 1.3 - 1.5 foot per day through the rest of April.

The flood control elevation for April 30 is 1220.2

This is not a good prescription for the comeback of trout and kokanee populations that were flushed out of the Lake Roosevelt system by deep drawdowns lat year. We may be looking at another bad year for fish.

Precipitation increased dramatically during March. The inflow forecast for Lake Roosevelt is 108% of average and the Dalles forecast is 111% of average.

For a daily forecast call (800) 824-4916. This forecast is updated at 3 p.m. each day.

See the Roosevelt current lake level chart.

Check here for the minimum boat launch elevations to determine which are out of water.

EWU outdoor gear auction starts Friday

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Eastern Washington Univeristy outdoors enthusiasts are pooling outdoor gear for sale and bidding this week.   Check it out.

FUN IN THE SUN SALE

APRIL 13TH, APRIL 14TH 2012

120 G ST. CHENEY, WA. 99004

FRIDAY APRIL 13TH, 2012, 8AM-4:30PM

SATURDAY APRIL 14TH, 8AM-4:30PM

Bids taken & some pre-priced items

SOLD at this time

BID PICKUP & Sale of Pre-Priced Items

THURSDAY, APRIL 19TH, 2012

8AM-4:00PM

ITEMS OF INTEREST

KAYAKSSNOW SHOESCROSS COUNTRY SKIS,

XC SKI BOOTSWHITEWATER RAFTS AND MORE.

FOR PHOTOS:

http://sites.ewu.edu/surplus/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewusurplus/

EMAIL: SURPLUS@ EWU.EDU

 (509) 359-7377 (FLOYD CLOKE) 

Spring chinook seasons coming up in Snake

SALMON FISHING — Four sections of the Snake River in southeast Washington will open progressively to fishing for spring chinook salmon, starting on April 20 with the stretch below Ice Harbor Dam.

Three other sections of the river, near Little Goose Dam, Lower Granite Dam and Clarkston, will open April 25.

Idaho’s spring salmon fishing season will open April 22 in the Clearwater River, Snake River, Little Salmon and lower Salmon River in what could be the third-largest run since the fishery opened 12 years.

Click here for details on Idaho's spring chinook fishing seasons

Read on for details about Washington's seasons on the Snake River.

Moose killed on Beacon Hill; officer seeks tips

POACHING — A cow moose was illegally killed Monday night on Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley, Washington Fish and Wildlife police say.

The poachers killed the animal using archery equipment on the north side of the mountain above Valley Springs road.

The animal was butchered on the spot, leaving little more than the two front feet and head behind.

Tire tracks indicate a small vehicle was used, possibly a small four-wheel drive, said Officer Dave Spurbeck.  A landowner heard a vehicle leaving the area around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Officers have few other clues and welcome any information that might help solve the case.

  • Call the investigators directly: Officer Paul Mosman, 710-5707, or Spurbeck, 993-3997. You can remain anonymous and still be elligible for a reward.

Beacon Hill, which holds several communications towers, is the prominent mountain just north of the Spokane River and just east of Esmeralda Golf Course. It's popular with mountain biker and hikers.

This web page details how poaching tips in any case can be provided anonymously by phone, email or text message.   Rewards are offered.

Otherwise call (877) 933-9847 anywhere in the state.

To reach the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokane Region Office during work hours, call (509) 892 1001.

Silver Mountain extending ski season with Silver Saturdays

WINTER SPORTS — Silver Mountain Resort is maintaining its tradition of exting the ski season into shorts and bikini-top weather. 

The entire 1,600-acre ski area is scheduled to be open for Silver Saturdays in April, and perhaps longer, riding high on the ample remainnig snowpack.

The resort reports 337 inches of snow fell this season on the mountain above Kellogg.

Read on for details:

Paddlers put odds in their favor BEFORE dumping on Hangman Creek

CANOEING — Despite the bad news recently about paddlers on the area's swollen waters, some canoeists and kayakers are enjoying the season safely.

Going with a group of people with comparable skills, knowing the weather forecast and having the right gear on your body and in the canoe or kayak can make a big difference.

A Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club group was on Hangman Creek Saturday after the river had come down from veryhigh flows the previous week. While rafters like higher flows in the upper river for their thrills, canoests generally look for flows in the neighborhood of 1200 cfs to avoid too much big water and still have enough to float without banging their boats on rocks.

“Saturday's flow was900-940 cfs, which was nice for our group,” said Dan Hansen.

“We ran into a kayaker who mentioned he would have liked bigger waves. I think it could have dropped another 100 cfs or so, and we still would have been happy.

“As it was, (Therese Wittman and I) took on a lot of water at the Big Rock Wave (in Vinegar Flats), bailed out the water, then went back to surf… that’s when we dumped my Dagger Legend.

“Luckily, I had bought a wetsuit … the day before our outing… the best $37 I’ve ever invested.

“I was also glad that I had an air bladder in the canoe (to make it easy to swim the boat to shore).”

Washington hunting rules to be set in Olympia

HUNTING – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on more than a dozen proposed changes in hunting rules for the 2012-14 seasons at a public meeting April 13-14 in Olympia.

New rules proposed for adoption include allowing waterfowl hunters to use electronic decoys and allowing bowhunters to use illuminated knocks. A separate item on landowner hunting permits also is on the commission's meeting agenda.

Some of the proposed hunting rules were developed after a series of public meetings and online surveys that began last summer. However, several proposed rules emerged after those meetings started, including the provisions on electronic decoys, lighted knocks and changes to the master hunter program for elk hunting near Turnbull National Wildlfie Refuge.

In other business, the commission will:

  • Consider adopting a statement designed to guide WDFW’s implementation of the state’s wolf plan,
  • Receive a briefing on legal aspects of the species’ protected status in Washington state.
  • Consider approving a request by WDFW to purchase 1,144 acres along Asotin Creek in Asotin County and 49 acres on the Methow River in Okanogan County to maintain habitat for fish and wildlife.

Bald eagles raising fluff-ball chicks under web cam

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A pair of bald eagles are back raising a brood for the world to see.

Three eggs have been hatched, and the real work has begun.

beautifully positioned web cam over a bald eagle nest at the Decorah Fish Hatchery in Iowa is catching the attention of millions of viewers. The web cam gained fame last year as people logged on to watch the chicks hatch, grow and fledge.

The site linked above has video clips of the eggs being layed by the female eagle as well as the hatching events. 

Also this year, the Raptor Reseach Project is tracking one of last year's eaglets fitted with a GPS device and offering online map updates.

Read on for more details and links.

Pucci retires from Schweitzer Ski Patrol after 45 years

WINTER SPORTS — “The end of an era is upon us,” says the announcement from Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

As the resort shuts down for the 2011-2012 season, Ski Patrol Director John Pucci will be retiring after 45 years as a patroller  and 38 years as the director at Schweitzer.

Spokane pulmonologist, adventurer, Dick Byrd dies in Cuba

Dr. Richard Byrd, a Spokane pulmonary specialist and globetrotting adventurer, died on April 3 after suffering a blow to the head in a fall while hiking a rocky area on the coast of Cuba.

Byrd, 82, was traveling with his wife, Laurie, and a group led by National Geographic Expeditions. The adventure travel organization has clearance to lead Cuba cultural trips that include U.S. citizens, who are otherwise restricted from entering the nation.

Byrd was featured in a 2010 story in The Spokesman-Review for the inexhaustible energy that allowed him to continue a medical practice with the Rockwood Clinic while satisfying a world-class appetite for climbing mountains, paddling kayaks and hiking treacherous trails.

“The group was hiking and he was out in front, as usual,” Laurie said, describing his fatal accident. “He apparently slipped and hit his head. He never regained consciousness.”

She said she finds comfort in knowing he was out exploring new territories and doing what he loved.

“On the other hand, this was such an incredibly active and vital man who still saw patients – and he was gone in an instant. It takes some getting used to.”

Byrd, a former Air Force officer, launched most of his outdoor adventures after the age of 50. He was active in the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club and a veteran, along with Laurie, on wilderness trips in North America.

They paddled off the Galapagos Islands as well as northeastern Greenland, a trip that took 10 years to arrange with permission from the natives.

“It was worth it,” he said.

Byrd climbed peaks such as Kilimanjaro and hiked to the base camps of Mount Everest and K2.

He'd trekked in Nepal, India and Buton, an island in Indonesia. He’d canoed Alaska’s Noatak River into the Bering Sea, kayaked the Strait of Magellan in Chile and rode out 400 miles of whitewater in a canoe, along with Laurie, on the Nahanni River in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories. The Nahanni trip is epic in the paddling club’s history because the group nearly starved.

After trekking 200 miles across England, walking an average of 20 miles each day, Byrd wondered if he was in good enough shape to run a marathon. He proved he could by finishing the Portland Marathon, just before he turned 80.

Byrd’s ashes returned the United States with his wife. The family is planning a memorial on April 27, 11 a.m., at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church.

Dishman Hills to get TLC; join the group

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WHAT: Dishman Hills Natural Area Cleanup, sponsored by REI.

WHEN: April 22, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

WHERE: Dishman Hills Natural Area, Camp Caro, 625 S. Sargent Road, Spokane Valley

WHO: Community groups and volunteers needed.

About 340 helpers made a big difference last year in the appearance of this gem of habitat for trail hikers and wildlife in Spokane Valley.

Groups are organized for trail restoration and clean-up, noxious weed removal, tree planting and other projects.

REI and the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association organize the event and provide music and free food.

Preregister here for info and to make sure you get a T-shirt!

Dig deeper into the volunteer trail work with a full weekend project sponsored by the Washington Trails Association.

National Parks offer full week without admission fees

PUBLIC LANDS — National parks will be waiving entrance fees to celebrate National Parks Week April 21-29.

The Park Service is waiving fees for a total of 17 days in 2012.

Offering  free admission to national parks and other federal lands has been featured the past three years as a cost-friendly family vacation option in the economic slump.

Kayaker makes spring season splash in Pack River

PADDLING — Watch Spokane pro kayaker Brian Jamieson carry over the lingering snow to sack the falls and rock slides on Idaho's Pack River.

Kayaker claims first descent of Towell Falls

PADDLING — Brian Jamieson claimed the first kayak descent of Towell Falls Saturday in the BLM's Rock Creek/Escure Ranch area 20 miles south of Sprague

The proof is captured here by photographer Michael Kinney (Tag Ur it Photography).

Easter celebration nipped in the bud

HUNTING DOGS — The annual Easter Egg Hunt has been cancelled.

Swallows return in time for Wenatchee festival

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The first violet-green swallows were spotted near Wenatchee Thursday morning, later than usual but with time to spare for the 35th annual Ardenvoir Swallow Festival on April 14.

See details from last year's festival events here.

Kerri Walters, 51, a longtime employee at Coopers Store and manager of the adjacent cafe, was deemed Swallow Queen, according to a story in the Wenatchee World. 

To win, she accurately predicted the swallow’s Thursday arrival time. They were spotted at 9:01 a.m. by the town’s Official Swallow Spotter Tim Olinghouse.

Most years, the birds arrive sometime in March from Mexico and Central America. But a warming climate — helping to produce earlier food sources further south — could be delaying the birds arrival time, swallow watchers have speculated.

As queen, Walters will wear the crown made of beer cans and ride in the official Swallow Fest parade.

Snow goers get expert advice for heading into spring backcountry

WINTER SPORTS — The calendar says its spring, but the snow keeps piling up in the mountains, inviting skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers into continue their winter ways.

Go in a group, keep track of the weather and use your best winter travel sense – because you’ll pretty much be out there on your own. Despite more layers of new snow this week, most of the region’s downhill ski areas will close for the season on Sunday.

And the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center has stopped testing the snowpack and posting weekly avalanche advisories.

Kevin Davis, IPAC director, posted a summary of spring snow travel tips to help snow goers make good decisions on their routes through spring snow conditions.

“With a better than average snowpack we should be doing well on mountain travel until late June in places,” he said.

Rick Bass to give Get Lit! a wilderness connection

OUTDOOR LITERATURE — Author Rick Bass of Montana's Yaak Valley, who captured a national audience by writing on man’s relationship with nature, will blend his perspective with an edgy Montana band in a special Get Lit! reading performance April 14, 7 p.m., in the Blue Room of the Spokane Masonic Center, 1108 W. Riverside Ave. Cost: $15

His readings will be accompanied by the unique live performance sound of Stellarondo.
 
A pass for the annual literary festival organized by Eastern Washington University is $45 for the week-long event that's phasing into high gear next week. Tickets are available from TicketsWest.
 
Read on for more about Rick Bass and the upcoming performance.

Idaho Fish and Game can’t Face(book) the online ugliness

WILDLIFE AGENCIES — After wading briefly into the world of social media, the Idaho Fish and Game Department has had to “unfriend” itself on Facebook.

Comment threads on issues such as wolves got so ugly, it was taking too much effort to monitor the traffic.

“We were spending way too much time looking at it. We had some employees who were trying to moderate [Facebook] in the middle of the night, which was crazy,” Mike Keckler, chief of IDFG's Bureau of Communications told the Boise Weekly. “I was doing that for a while, and realized I was literally losing sleep over this.”

Read onfor the rest of the Boise Weekly report.

Waterfowl love the wetness soaking the region

SPRING MIGRANTS — The region's wet spell is putting a damper on a lot of activities, but waterfowl are in their element as they pause during their spring migrations in the Inland Northwest's wealth of flooded fields and wetlands.

Ducks, geese and swans have so many options, they're fooling even experienced birders in their back yards.

John Stuart of Newport, fresh in from a birding trip in his neck of the woods, was disappointed over the weekend to see the 1,500 tundra swans had left Calispell Lake in Pend Oreille County.

“The migrating Tundra swans, usually a big noisy deal on Calispell Lake, sort of pulled a switcheroo on us, thanks to the weather,” he said in a report to Inland Northwest Birders.  He assumed that because the lake had risen 3 feet in a couple days — and swans necks being only so long, they could no longer reach the submerged comestibles and had to take their leave.”

But soon after he put out the report, he heard from other birders and set the record straight Wednesday afternoon:

Apparently my story of the Swans at Calispell Lk. was not as black and white as I supposed.  Terry Little found a big crowd there on Friday (30th) and Jon Isacoff found a couple thousand on Tues (3rd), while we saw none on Sunday.  But Jon found a guy at Riverbend (about 10 miles north) who said the swans had been up there feeding on the larger than usual flooded field.  So apparently the birds were finding some alternative feeding areas without leaving the area.

So the rain eliminated one area for feeding but created at least one new one.

UI hosts panel discussion: ‘Wolves in the West’

PREDATORS — With wolf-related issues burning or smoldering all over the place, a high-level panel is coming together for a public discussion at the University of Idaho Thursday night (April 5).

The Environmental Law Society is focusing on wolves, one of the most politicized and difficult issues in environmental law.

  • Ed Bangs (former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Coordinator) will provide the scientific background;
  • Professor Dale Goble (University of Idaho College of Law) will describe the law surrounding wolf de-listing;
  • Professor John Freemuth (Boise State Masters of Public Administration Program) will talk about what public policy makers consider when negotiating their way through divergent interests to a workable solution. 

The presentation is set for Thursday, 6:30 p.m.,  Room 104, Menard Law Building

Super heroes raise $150,000 for Hank (and others) at Schweitzer

SKIING — Nearly 130 skiers and snowboarders ages 5-74 spearheaded the effort to raise a record $150,000 in the 4th annual “24 Hours of Schweitzer” last weekend.

While an ill-timed storm and gusty winds pounded the resort and forced closure of part of the mountain during the event, the participants compiled a staggering 7.06 million vertical feet of downhilling to bring in money from pledges.

All the money and effort is devoted to boosting cystinosis research. The effort is inspired by the Sandpoint-based family and friends of Hank Sturgis.  See details here.

24 Hours champion and record holder Matt Gillis wore a Superman outfit as he successfully defended his title, completing 143 runs in the 24 hours, just barely beating Eric Jensen of Sandpoint — by 15 seconds!

  • We're checking out the rumors that Jensen is planning to wear a diaper next year to make up the difference.

But it will be tough to thoroughly dethrone Gillis, a master skier and aerial performer, who individually raised a whopping record $33,000.

Read on for details about the event and the other amazing players.

Crab Creek angler becomes traveling feast for ticks

FISHING — A friend to took advantage of Tuesday's window of decent weather for an unplanned trip to sample the fly fishing at Crab Creek in Lincoln County.

Although he'd been to the creek and had decent success two weeks earlier, the water was off-color on Tuesday from the recent rain and the fishing was poor, he said.

“I was going to quit but then caught a nice fish so kept going,” he said. “Did not get another.”

But that's not to say he got skunked in every department.

“Part way through the day I stopped counting the number of ticks removed from my clothing at 100,” said.

Brave guy.  When he was at Crab Creek in March, he picked off dozens of ticks in the field, in his vehicle on the drive, and still found four on his chest back home. Then he left on a ski vacation a week later, and found another attached in his scalp. He figures his car still holds Crab Creek ticks waiting their turn. 

When he got home, his wife told him she found several in the sheets when she changed the bedding.

Be careful out there.

Click here to read my detailed primer on hiking and recreating in tick country.

Idaho wolf seasons closed in most zones

PREDATORS — Idaho's wolf trapping seasons closed March 31 in all wolf management zones, and hunting seasons have closed in all but the Lolo and Selway zones where hunting seasons remain open through June 30.

As of April 2, hunters had killed 252 wolves, and trappers 123, for a total of 375 wolves, the Idaho Fish and Game Department reports. The agency says it sold about 43,300 wolf tags for the 2011-2012 season.

For the remainder of the 2011-2012 season, hunters may use two 2012 tags, and they may take only one wolf per tag. Wolf seasons are any-weapon seasons, electronic calls may be used, and wolves may be taken incidentally during fall bear baiting.

Hunters must report killing a wolf within 72 hours, and they must present the skull and hide to an Idaho Fish and Game office within 10 days.

Wolf trapping seasons opened November 15 in the Panhandle zone, except for units 2 and 3; in the Lolo zone; in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, except Unit 10A; in the Selway zone; and the Middle Fork zone. Unit 10 A was opened to trapping on February 1.

All trapping seasons ran through March 31 and are now closed.

The 2012-2013 wolf hunting season will open throughout the state on August 30, and the trapping season will open November 15 in some wolf zones.

Wolf issues conjure up hysteria on both extremes

PREDATORS — Hunters and trappers can be their own worst enemies.

The World Wide Web saw red this weekend as animal rights groups took great pleasure in spreading photos of hunters and trappers posing in bloody scenes with their wolves.

The most offensive features a man keeling and smiling. In the background, in a circle of snow tinted with blood, is a wolf, its tongue hanging out, its foot clamped in a leg-hold trap. Men posing with dead wolves is sufferable. In this case, the guy is mugging for the camera while the wolf suffers in the background.

Then the idiot posted the photo on the Internet.

Here's a Reuters story on the outrage, which of course is being spread by animal rights group giddy with the opportunity.

Read on for a few terse thoughts about the extremes in the wolf issue.

Wind, rain no joke for anglers out for April 1 fishing opener

FISHING – The April 1 fishing season opener at many lakes in the Columbia Basin indicates that anglers are still paying a price for the long, cold, wet spring of 2011.

That’s not to say this year has been much better, so far.

The number of anglers out for the opener was down throughout the Basin, with NO anglers observed at the Pillar-Wideon chain of lakes near Potholes Reservoir.

March 1 was the opener for most selective fishery waters in Eastern Washington. Most Spokane area lowland trout production lakes open for fishing on April 28.

At Dry Falls Lake, a spring favorite for fly fishermen, rain followed by high winds kept all by the most dedicated opening day anglers off the water.

Those who persisisted for three-five hours caught and released an average of five fish, said Chad Jackson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife District biologist.  Trout size ranged from 10-20 inches.

Yearling trout, however, showed signs of last year’s shorter growing season, Jackson said.

”Yearlings should easily; be 12-14 inches by the opener instead of 10-12 inches,” he said.  ” Smaller yearling trout size has been observed in other lakes in the Basin this year.  Over the next couple months these trout should grow to a nicer size.”

High water makes kayakers happy, humble at Dead Dog Hole

PADDLING — High water in many of the region's streams justifiably keeps average paddlers on shore where they belong.  But expert kaykers relish runoff, giving them the only shot of the year at some mountain streams.

Close to home, Dead Dog Hole on the Spokane River under the Stateline bridge, attracts a regular clientelle of kayakers working on their play-boating techniques.

Photo above by paddler/photographer Brian Jamieson shows a crew staging on Sunday for some Dead Dog action.

But even the experienced paddlers have their limits, as Jamieson emphasized in this Facebook post:

We had two swimmers out at the dog yesterday, neither was bad at all but remember to keep it safe out there! There's a ton of wood comin down right now so a spotter is key. Also, having a throw rope or two on shore is a good idea in case of problems. The hole should be past it's stickiest stage, but let's be sure to keep it safe out there!

Floodwater sewage a threat to Spokane River birds

WILDLIFE — Local birding enthusiast Tim O'Brien of Cheney offered some field observations — and commentary — to expand on a newspaper story about the heavy amounts of rainfall the area is receiving and its affect on the Spokane sewage treatment plant — and the Spokane River.

Birds are influenced by the sewage overflow into the river, and O'Brien lists some of the ways. 

Click “continue reading” for his report to the Inland Northwest Birders.

Rivers swollen so big even bikers are affected

RIVERS — Rivers around the region filled with runoff to flood stage on Saturday.  The water got so high, even mountain bikers were impacted in Riverside State Park.

The photo was snapped Saturday by Spokane cyclist Daniel DeRuyter. He posed his bike where the rapidly rising Spokane River had inundated the trail in the Little Vietnam area on the south side of the river just downstream from the Bowl and Pitcher.

Said DeRuyter, “The alarming thing about this photo is that when I grabbed my bike to leave, the water had risen in level to touch my tires! Yikes.”

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About this blog

News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

Rich Landers – hunter, animal lover, hiker, paddler, angler, naturalist and conservationist – has been covering the outdoors beat for more than three decades. His versatility and field research as a trails and waterways guidebook author help him connect issues to a wide range of interests.

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