Locals cast in BassMasters
Scott Hodgkinson of Spokane caught one bass weighing 3 pounds, 8 ounces to place 12th among 45 contestants last Sunday in the 15-18 year old senior division of the Bassmasters 2006 Junior World Championship in Leesburg, Fla.
Joey Nania of Liberty Lake, fishing in the under-15 age class, did not catch a fish in his half-day on the water teamed with a professional angler. Only 20 of the 45 under-15 contestants caught fish.
Nania won the junior division of the 2005 Junior Bassmasters World Championship in Pittsburgh.
Hodgkinson and Nania qualified for the World Championships by winning their divisions in the Junior Bassmaster Championship at Potholes Reservoir during Labor Day weekend.
Last weekend, Nick Kelly, 17, of Brownsville, Tenn., caught 12 pounds of bass to win the senior division. Payden Hibdon, 14, of Stover, Mo., caught 9 pounds, 5 ounces of fish to win the junior division.
Luke Clausen, 27, of Spokane is among the 50 top professional bass anglers competing this weekend in the Bassmasters Classic, widely considered the Super Bowl of bass fishing.
Clausen, currently ranked 48 out of 445 pros on Bassfan.com, has been fishing professionally for three years. He has five top-10 finishes in major events and career earnings of $600,900. Clausen, a graduate of Eastern Washington University, won the 2004 FLW Tour Championship and a $500,000 prize.
In the rare occasions when he’s not fishing, Clausen said, “I like to hunt everything — bow-hunt, bird-hunt, a little bit of everything.”
Wooten area open to sportsmen
Access closures resulting from last summer’s forest fires on the Wooten Wildlife Area have been lifted and anglers will have normal access Wednesday when the fishing season opens in the impoundments along the Tucannon River.
Spring turkey and black bear hunters also should find little interference from temporary safety closures put in place because of salvage logging operations, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The seven man-made lakes along the Tucannon will be open Wednesday as well as the two campgrounds in the area.
Vehicle traffic through the wildlife area is periodically delayed, however, while logging helicopters are overhead.
Other campgrounds, hillsides and uplands in most of the 11,778-acre wildlife area remain closed during helicopter logging. The closure is scheduled to last through April 7, and is necessary to protect recreationists from hazardous situations during the logging operations.
Big bucks for bighorn tags
A Salem, Ore., hunter bid $55,000 for the 2006 bighorn sheep auction tag offered by Idaho, and a Yakima hunter bid $50,000 for the Washington tag auctioned earlier this month at the annual Foundation for North American Wild Sheep convention in Reno.
States and provinces contribute coveted big-game tags to the auction to raise money for wild sheep management programs and research.
The most valuable tags this year were the New Mexico desert bighorn going for $186,000, Arizona desert bighorn for $165,000, and the first tag offered in many years for hunting Dall sheep in Yukon’s Kluane Game Sanctuary, $160,000.
Other bighorn tags were auctioned as follows: British Columbia $132,500, Oregon $120,000, Montana $115,000, Nevada $110,000, New Mexico $86,000, California $80,000, Colorado $60,000, Utah $57,500, Wyoming $55,000, Washington $50,000, Navajo Nation $45,000, Alaska $13,500.
Alberta’s tag sold for $85,000, far lower than its six-digit tradition because the province is putting more hunters in the best unit by offering numerous tags to resident and subsistence hunters.
Mexico offered five bighorn tags that raised a total of $324,500.
Last year, a Spokane hunter bid $180,000 for the Idaho tag, a record for Idaho, but in past years bids have exceeded $300,000 for tags in Montana and Alberta.
The bidding price depends on the buzz and the opportunities for taking trophy rams. Idaho’s tag was more valuable last year when it was valid for Unit 11 in Hells Canyon, well-known as a hot spot for big rams. In even-numbered years, the auction tag is good anywhere in Idaho except Unit 11.
FNAWS has joined with Idaho, Oregon and Washington to restore bighorns to Hells Canyon, the largest area of wild sheep habitat remaining in the lower 48 states.