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Another 3-day Grande Ronde spring chinook season set

FISHING — The lower Grande Ronde River will re-open for an additional three days of fishing for spring chinook salmon Saturday through Monday from the Highway 129 Bridge upstream approximately 12 miles to the farthest upstream Oregon/Washington boundary line.

Last week the stretch was opened for a test fishery for the first time in 40 years. Fewer anglers than expected showed up, so Oregon and Washington decided to try again. There’s hatchery fish there and they want them caught!

Anglers will have a daily catch limit of SEVEN hatchery chinook salmon (marked by a clipped adipose fin), only TWO of which can be adult chinook. Anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery chinook salmon.

In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks no larger than 5/8 inch from point to shank. A night closure also is in effect.

Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit.

The Grande Ronde River fishery is co-managed by Washington and Oregon under concurrent fishing regulations.

Idaho closing chinook season on portions of Clearwater

FISHING — The recent reports of great spring chinook fishing on Idaho's Clearwater River were a prophesy that some quota's would soon be reached.  Time has come. Here's a closure notice just released:
 
At the end of fishing hours on Friday, June 6, 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will implement a closure to the harvest of adult Chinook Salmon (24 inches or greater) on the Clearwater River from Cherrylane Bridge upstream to Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.  
 
This closure is being implemented because the harvest quota for adult Chinook Salmon has been met in these sections of river.  Harvest quotas for adult Chinook Salmon in different reaches within the Clearwater River drainage were developed using input from the public to help insure all communities in the watershed have opportunities to harvest salmon.
 
Starting on Saturday June 7, 2014, only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches)  with a daily limit of four (4) will be allowed downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River. 
 
Chinook Salmon rules in river reaches upstream of the Orofino Bridge will remain unchanged until further notice.

Columbia Basin fisheries ideas due May 30

FISHING — People with ideas about how to improve state sportfishing rules in the Columbia River Basin have until May 30 to submit their proposals to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State fish managers will consider proposed rules submitted by the public for any fish species except salmon, so long as they apply specifically to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries, or lakes within the basin.

To propose a fishing rule change:

This year’s focus on a specific geographical area – the Columbia River Basin – marks a change from WDFW’s past practice of considering fishing rules proposed for waters anywhere in the state each year.

Craig Burley, WDFW fish program manager, said the department will consider only those public proposals affecting fisheries in the Columbia River Basin this year. WDFW will focus on proposals for freshwater fisheries in Puget Sound and coastal areas in 2015, then saltwater fisheries in 2016, Burley said.

“This approach will allow fishery managers and the public to focus on specific proposals and their potential effects in specific watersheds,” he said. “That’s difficult to do if you’re looking at hundreds of proposals affecting waters all over the state.”

The new process was recently approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Sportfishing rule changes developed through this process will be available for public review and comment in August.

The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes in November, and take final action on the 2014-15 sportfishing rule changes at a public meeting in December.

Kokanee limit increased to 15 at Lake Pend Oreille

FISHING – The limit of kokanee anglers can catch at Lake Pend Oreille has been increased from 8 to 15.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the increase at a meeting in Lewiston Thursday, effective immediately.

Increasing the catch limit is a signal that fish managers believe the kokanee have made a remarkable recovery from near collapse 14 years ago. Costly efforts to reduce the invasion of lake trout starting in 2006 allowed the kokanee to make a comeback.

Kokanee fishing on the lake was closed in 1999 and reopened in 2013.

IFG says Pend Oreille kokanee limits could be raised

FISHING — They were cautious at first, allowing a daily limit of just six kokanee last year for the first kokanee fishing season since 1999 at Lake Pend Oreille.

But Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say surveys continue to show the fishery has recovered from its near collapse, with  2 or 3 million adult land-locked sockeyes estimated to be swimming in the lake this spring.

The department is getting ready to ask anglers if they'd back biologists in requesting that the daily limit be raised to 15. If so, they'll propose the increase to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for a decision that could be made in mid-May.

“The first question anglers are going to ask is whether the fishery is recovered enough to be ready for it,” said Jim Fredericks, Panhandle fisheries manager. “Our answer is definitely yes, or we wouldn't even suggest it.”

Fredericks invites anglers who have questions or comments about the possible rule change to contact him at (208) 769-1414 or send an e-mail to jim.fredericks@idfg.idaho.gov, before May 10th

Sign of the times:  The annual K&K Spring Derby, for the first time since the 1990s, has added a Kokanee Division to its fishing contest.   The event opens this weekend and runs through May 5. The Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club's Pin Auction fundraising event is Friday.

 Prizes run up to $2,500 for the largest rainbow and $1,500 for the top mackinaw.

But yes, kokanee are back.  The K&K name came from the old days of Kamloops & Kokanee Days.  Whether you think it should be G & K (G for Gerrard-strain rainbow) or whatever, it's great to see the return of the K for Kokanee.

Comments sought on Snake River chinook proposals

FISHING — With an encouraging run of spring chinook forecast for 2014, he Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on proposals for a spring chinook salmon fishery on the Snake River in late April and May.
 
Options have been developed following public meetings in Clarkston on March 26, and Kennewick on March 27.
Now fish managers are asking anglers to comment by answering three questions.
 
Read on for the questions and details on how to comment by the April 11 deadline.  

Okanogan River steelhead fishing to close Friday

FISHING — Two sections of the Okanogan River will close to fishing for steelhead one hour before official sunrise on Friday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

  • Okanogan River: From the first power line crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek.
  • Okanogan River: From the Tonasket Bridge (4th Street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.

Reason for action: Sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket Creeks will close early to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning within those tributaries.

General rules in areas open to steelhead fishing;

  • Mandatory retention of adipose-fin-clipped steelhead, daily limit two (2) hatchery steelhead, 20 inch minimum size. Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.
  • Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
  • Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect.
  • Whitefish anglers must follow selective gear rules in areas open to steelhead fishing. No bait is allowed.

Other information:

All other areas currently open to steelhead fishing on the Columbia, Okanogan, Methow, Wenatchee, and Similkameen rivers remain open.

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.

Check for other emergency rules on the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the webpage.

Steelheading to close on upper Columbia

FISHING — Steelhead fisheries will close one hour after sunset on Sunday, Dec. 8, on the upper Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam and on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.

Fishing for whitefish will also close on the Wenatchee River.

The closures will not affect the Okanogan River, Similkameen River, Methow River, and mainstem Columbia River from Wells Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries will remain open until further notice under previously published rules.

Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the closures are necessary to keep impacts on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“This year's run is smaller than in recent years and contains a relatively high proportion of wild steelhead,” Korth said. “Because of that, we saw an increase in the rate of encounters with natural-origin fish in some fishing areas.”

Although anglers must release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in area fisheries, some of those fish do not survive and are counted toward ESA impact limits.

The federal permit authorizing the steelhead fisheries sets a maximum allowable mortality of natural-origin steelhead to accommodate variations in run strength and angling effort on specific waters. WDFW closely monitors the fisheries and enforces fishing rules to protect wild steelhead.

The primary reason the upper Columbia steelhead fisheries are permitted is to remove excess hatchery fish from spawning grounds, said Korth, noting that those fisheries provide popular recreational fishing opportunities and economic benefits for rural communities throughout the region.

WDFW fisheries managers are analyzing fishery impacts to date, and will produce a steelhead run update next month, Korth said. Some areas could be reopened at a later date for additional fishing opportunities, and anglers should keep a close eye on the WDFW website for these possibilities.

Read on for specific details about the closure:

TU offers $10K reward to fight illegal fish planting

FISHING —  Montana Trout Unlimited is working with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to supplement rewards in cases where people illegally plant non-native fish into important trout waters.

The organization has said it would add up to $10,000 to a reward for information leading to the prosecution and conviction of a so-called “bucket biologist.”

Montana TU Conservation Director Mark Aagenes tells the Independent Record that $10,000 is a lot of money, but it would be well spent to deter illegal introductions when you consider the cost of lost fishing opportunities and the cost of removing an invasive species.

Introduced fish can compete with, breed with or prey on established species; spread disease and impair water quality.

Montana TU and FWP are still discussing how to create the reward program.

Steelhead rules liberated on Hanford Reach

FISHING — Steelheading rules on a portion of the Columbia River are being liberated Thursday as enough fish move up the river to satisfy hatchery egg-taking needs.  

Here's the announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:  Open a section of the Columbia River to retention of any hatchery steelhead

Species affected:  Hatchery steelhead

Effective Date:Oct. 17, 2013

Location:  Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco upstream to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers

Other information:

•      Daily limit of two (2) hatchery steelhead.  Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.  Minimum size is 20 inches.

•      Wild steelhead (adipose fin intact) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.

This action removes the requirement for both an adipose fin clip and ventral fin clip for hatchery steelhead retained prior to Nov. 1. The Lower Hanford Reach will remain open for hatchery steelhead fishing after Oct. 31 under the current permanent regulation listed in the 2013-14 fishing rules pamphlet (Page 73) and is scheduled to run through March 31, 2014.

Reason for action: Hatchery-origin steelhead in excess of desired escapement are forecast to return to the upper Columbia River. This fishery will reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin steelhead and consequently increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. Higher proportions of naturally produced spawners are expected to improve genetic integrity and recruitment of upper Columbia River steelhead through perpetuation of steelhead stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage.  Steelhead fisheries for hatchery steelhead (adipose clip only) have recently opened in the upper Columbia and tributaries allowing early retention of adipose clip only steelhead in the lower Hanford Reach.  

Tonight: biologists explain walleye limit for Sanpoil Arm

FISHING – Sportfishing rule changes proposed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be explained in a public meeting starting at 6 p.m. tonight at the agency’s regional office, 2315 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley.

Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 31.

One proposal calls for liberalizing the daily limit for walleye to 16 fish on the waters of the San Poil River inundated by Lake Roosevelt (the San Poil Arm) to decrease the overabundant walleye population and to align regulations with those for Lake Roosevelt.

The proposals will be made to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s during its November meeting in Olympia.

 

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the final sportfishing rules package during a meeting in December.

New steelheading rule for Tucannon River

FISHING — Starting toaday, Sept. 1, a new fishing rule designed to protect critically low levels of wild steelhead and reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds will take effect on the Tucannon River.

An emergency rule approved today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will:

  • Close the river to steelhead fishing upstream from Marengo at Turner Road Bridge and define the downstream boundary of the fishery where the Tucannon flows into the Snake River.
  • Reduce the daily catch limit from three to two hatchery steelhead in the area open to fishing.
  • Require anglers to keep any hatchery steelhead they intercept, and stop fishing once they catch their daily limit of two hatchery steelhead or two trout.

Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said returns of natural origin steelhead to the Tucannon River are falling short of meeting conservation goals, which could potentially affect the department's ability to open future recreational fisheries. Anglers can help by retaining every hatchery steelhead they catch, he said.

“Stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon in late summer and fall need to be removed to prevent them from spawning naturally,” Mendel said. “At the same time, we need to provide a refuge area above Marengo for early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.”

In addition, barbless hooks are required when fishing for steelhead. Anglers must release any steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.

Anglers cannot remove any steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit. Chinook and coho salmon, as well as bull trout, are also present in the Tucannon River during the steelhead fishery and must be released immediately if caught, Mendel said. 

The new fishing rule defines the mouth of the Tucannon River as waters “lying south of a line of sight from an orange diamond-shaped sign attached to the Hwy. 261 guard rail (northwest of the Tucannon River and adjacent to the highway rest area turn off), running southeast across to the eastern, un-submerged shoreline of the river (point of land spit).”

The large embayment between the eastern shoreline of the Tucannon River and the rock bluff to the east along the south shore of the Snake River is considered part of the Snake River, Mendel said.

Anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Tucannon River and all other tributaries and mainstem of the Snake River are required to have the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, which helps pay for monitoring the fisheries. Anglers should check the fishing regulation pamphlet for all details.  

Walleye limit changes proposed for Sanpoil Arm

FISHING – Sportfishing rule changes proposed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be explained in a public meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 and the agency’s regional office, 2315 N. Discovery Pl. in Spokane Valley.

Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 31.

One proposal calls for liberalizing the daily limit for walleye to 16 fish on the waters of the San Poil River inundated by Lake Roosevelt (the San Poil Arm) to decrease the overabundant walleye population and to align regulations with those for Lake Roosevelt.

The proposals will be made to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s during its November meeting in Olympia.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the final sportfishing rules package during a meeting in December.

Hot Buoy 10 salmon season gets reprieve

SALMON FISHING — Fish managers have just announced a compromise rule that will prevent the wildly successful Buoy 10 chinook fishery from being shut down prematurely.  Here's the news from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Columbia River anglers fishing Buoy 10

must release wild chinook starting Friday

OLYMPIA – Starting Friday (Aug. 23), anglers fishing at the Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River will be required to release any wild chinook salmon they intercept, but are currently cleared to catch hatchery chinook through Sept. 1.

Those provisions of a new rule adopted today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are designed to minimize impacts on wild stocks, while allowing the popular fishing season to continue as previously planned.

Fishery managers from both states have scheduled another meeting Aug. 27 to review the catch and consider any necessary changes to the fishery.

Catch rates for chinook salmon have soared since the fishery opened Aug.1, prompting fishery managers to consider an early closure, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

In the past week, anglers fishing the Buoy 10 area in the lower 16 miles of the Columbia River have been catching up to 1,600 chinook per day, Roler said.

“Our primary concern is wild chinook bound for tributaries of the lower Columbia River to spawn,” he said. “But fishery managers from both states agreed we could provide adequate protection for those fish without closing the chinook fishery ahead of schedule.”

Under the rule approved today, anglers may retain only those chinook salmon marked as hatchery fish with a clipped adipose fin or a missing left ventral fin.

Barbless hooks are currently required to fish for salmon on the Columbia River, making it easier for anglers to release wild fish unharmed, Roler said.

Anglers fishing the Buoy 10 area have a two-fish daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook salmon. Hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead may be retained to make up the two-fish daily limit.

See more information on current fishing regulations in Washington.

An estimated 678,000 fall chinook salmon are predicted to enter the Columbia River, well above the 10-year average. Fishing for hatchery and wild chinook is currently open from the mouth of the river upstream to Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington.

Snake River fall chinook season opens Sept. 1

SALMON FISHING – Starting Sept. 1, anglers will be able to catch and keep hatchery fall chinook salmon on the Snake River in Washington, the Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.

State fishery managers are predicting another strong return of upriver bright chinook salmon to the Snake River this year and have expanded the daily catch limit to include three adult hatchery chinook, plus six hatchery jack chinook under 24 inches in length.

Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead, but must stop fishing for the day for both hatchery chinook and steelhead once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit. The retention season for hatchery steelhead on the Snake River opened on Jun. 16 this year.

Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released, along with any chinook salmon under 12 inches.

The fishery will be open seven days a week and will extend from beneath the southbound lanes of the Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upriver to the Oregon state line, approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River.

“This fishing opportunity for hatchery chinook salmon is a bonus for anglers during the traditionally productive Snake River steelhead fishery,” said John Whalen, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Whalen said the retention fishery for chinook is expected to extend through Oct. 31, although it could close earlier based on ongoing assessments of the run size and catch totals.

Retention of hatchery chinook won’t increase impacts to fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so long as anglers release wild chinook as required, Whalen said. Of the 434,600 upriver bright chinook salmon projected to enter the Columbia River this year, 31,600 are wild fall chinook bound for the Snake River.

For that reason, Whalen reminds anglers to identify their catch before they remove it from the water. State law prohibits removing chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless they are retained as part of the daily catch limit.

Check the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet and watch for updates on the WDFW website.

Warm water restricts angling on Bitterroot, Clark Fork rivers

FISHING —  In an effort to protect fish from the stress of low stream flows and high water temperatures, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will prohibit fishing from 2 p.m. until midnight on parts of the Clark Fork and all of the Bitterroot River, excluding the East and West Forks, beginning Thursday, July 25.
 
The waters affected by the 2 p.m.-midnight closure on the Clark Fork include the stretch from Perkins Lane Bridge near Warm Springs downstream to Flint Creek and then from the Clark Fork-Bitterroot confluence just west of Missoula downstream to the Flathead River. 
 
On the Bitterroot, fishing is prohibited from 2 p.m.-midnight on the entire length of the river, excluding the East and West Forks.
 
Water temperatures on the affected streams have exceeded FWP criteria for temporary fishing restrictions, a tool used to help reduce the impact on drought-stressed fish.
 
Pat Saffel, FWP Region 2 Fisheries Manager, says that drought-like conditions, which often occur in Montana in late July and August, can stress wild trout and other fish. Prolonged high water temperatures and lower oxygen levels can lead to fish kills that can affect fish numbers in future years.
 
“We’re monitoring temperatures on other western Montana rivers and will implement further restrictions if necessary,” Saffel says.  “Anglers on all rivers can reduce fish stress by fishing only during the morning and early afternoon periods when water temperatures are at their coolest.”

Other river restrictions are in place in other parts of the state. 

Anglers can check for details on fishing restrictions or closures on the FWP home page at fwp.mt.gov. Select Drought & Fire under the Hot Topics heading, or check the FWP online fishing guide.

Warm water restricts fishing on Montana rivers

FISHING — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is limiting fishing hours on several rivers due to lower flows and warmer temperatures.

The fishing closures between 2 p.m. and midnight will take effect Monday on portions of the Dearborn, Smith and Sun rivers along with the Lower Madison and Upper Big Hole rivers.

FWP orders “hoot owl” closures when maximum water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days.

The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 56 degrees.

The closures affect the Dearborn River from Highway Bridge 435 to the confluence with the Missouri River north of Craig; the Smith River from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge south of Great Falls; and the Sun River from Highway 287 bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek west of Great Falls.

The Lower Madison River closure is in effect from Ennis Dam to Three Forks while the Upper Big Hole closure is from the headwaters outside Jackson to Dickey Bridge. 

The Clark Fork River near Superior continutes to be restricted because of a nearby wildfire.

Fall salmon seasons on Idaho commission’s agenda

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Fall chinook salmon seasons are on the agenda for the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting Wednesday and Thursday (July 10 and 11) at the Clarion Inn, 1399 Bench Rd. in Pocatello.

Chinook fishing is proposed to open Sept. 1 on parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers.

The commisisoners have set a public comment session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, at the Clarion Inn

Commissioners will hear an update on the negotiated rule-making process, required by recent changes in state law. Four new rules are being considered for negotiated rule making.

·         Nonresident junior mentored tags would require the mentor to have a tag for the same species but not necessarily the same area.

·         Bear hunters would be required to complete Fish and Game’s bear identification course and exam before hunting bears in units where both black bears and grizzly bears may be encountered.

·         Rules would be developed covering the use of unprocessed food for bear bait in certain units in the Upper Snake Region.

·         The existing Landowner Appreciation Program would be adjusted to resolve concerns expressed by landowners in Unit 45 about program restrictions.

Read on for more details about these rules, other agenda items and specific proposals for the chinook seasons:

Barbless hook rule set to expand on Columbia

FISHING —  Starting May 1, anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries downstream from Chief Joseph Dam will be required to use barbless hooks.

This is just one of several new fishing rules adopted for 2013 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The new barbless regulations expand a similar rule in effect on the stretch of the Columbia River that constitutes the border between Washington and Oregon.

The new rules extend the ban on barbed hooks another 250 miles upriver on the Columbia River and to dozens of its tributaries, including the Cowlitz, White Salmon, Klickitat, Snake, Yakima and Okanogan rivers. 

Anglers fishing those waters will still be allowed to use single, double-point or treble hooks, so long as the barbs have been filed off or pinched down.

Jim Scott, assistant director of the WDFW Fish Program, said the new rule will contribute to ongoing efforts to minimize impacts on wild stocks while maintaining opportunities for anglers to harvest abundant hatchery fish.

“Anyone who’s ever fished with barbless hooks knows they are easier to remove from a fish’s mouth than a barbed hook,” Scott said. “That’s important in fisheries where anglers are required to release wild fish unharmed.”

Fishing regulations requiring the release of wild salmon and steelhead are common in the Columbia River Basin and other Washington waters, especially in areas wild salmon and steelhead are protected by state and federal laws. In those cases, only hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.

“Anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound and ocean waters have been required to use barbless hooks for years,” Scott said. “The new rule on the Columbia River is consistent with our state’s longstanding commitment to sustainable fisheries.”

Waters where the new rules apply are marked in WDFW’s 2013-14 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, now posted online.

The paper version of the pamphlet will be distributed to recreational license dealers around the state by early May.

WDFW needs angler input on Snake spring chinook rules

FISHING — Anglers have until Monday to comment on proposals geared to helping them get the most out of a very limited spring chinook salmon fishing season being planned for the Snake River in late April and May.

“The 2013 run forecast is low, and following the restrictions of federal Endangered Species Act, the harvest allocation available for the Snake River is just 360 adipose-fin-clipped hatchery adults, at least until the in-season run update is available the first week of May,” says John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager.

The agency is asking anglers to choose one of three options and let biologists know by email to help them make a decision that will please the most anglers.

Read on for details and the options from WDFW:

Poachers keep wildlife officers busy writing tickets

FISHING — Numerous lakes already are open for fishing, but a few folks apparently like the elbow room they find at waters that aren't officially open.

They kept Spokane Region Wildlife police  busy last week.   Here are a few excerpts from the regional enforcement weekly report:

Officer Snyder patrolled the Spokane River and lakes in the Medical Lake and Cheney areas.  Two groups of anglers were cited for fishing closed season at West Medical Lake

Officer Snyder checked anglers at Liberty Lake and arrested one on an outstanding warrant out of Lincoln County. 

Officer Spurbeck patrolled the Spokane River and contacted two subjects fishing closed waters.  The subjects were also using terminal gear and neither subject had a valid fishing license. 

Sergeant Charron responded to two fisherman fishing closed waters on Deep Lake. Suspects attempted to hide fishing gear but were unsuccessful. 

Officer Vance patrolled the Touchet and Tucannon Rivers. One angler was contacted as he was fishing directly at the base of the dam in Dayton on the Touchet River. He said he saw the no fishing signs and knew he was not allowed to fish there, but wanted to catch a steelhead the easy way. 

New walleye rules for Lake Roosevelt, including San Poil and Spokane arms

FISHING — New fishing regulations with more liberal limits take effect Monday, April 1, on Lake Roosevelt, and the lower reaches of the San Poil and Spokane Rivers. 

Here are the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:  The daily walleye bag limit for Lake Roosevelt, the lower San Poil River, and the lower Spokane River will increase to 16 fish with no size restriction. In addition, the lower Spokane River from mouth (SR 25 Bridge) upstream to 400 feet below Little Falls Dam will open for walleye fishing April 1.

Effective Date:  April 1 at 12:01 a.m. until further notice

Species affected:  Walleye

Locations:

  • Lake Roosevelt;
  • The lower Spokane River from mouth (SR 25 Bridge) to 400 feet below Little Falls Dam; and
  • The lower San Poil River from Boundary Line A upstream to Boundary Line C (as illustrated by the map in the current WDFW “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet, or the Fishing section of the WDFW webpage

Reason for action:  In early March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved new fishing regulations designed to increase harvest on an overabundant walleye populations in Lake Roosevelt and the lower Spokane River. Besides providing additional fishing opportunities for anglers, these changes will help to reduce walleye predation on native fish populations as well as the number of small walleye in those waters. The permanent regulations approved by the Commission will take effect May 1, 2013.

The emergency regulations will effectively initiate these changes April 1, 2013, a month sooner, to expedite the goals of the Commission's permanent rules for Lake Roosevelt and the lower Spokane River. In addition, they apply the 16-fish daily limit for walleye to the lower San Poil River, which also has an overabundance of the species.

Other information:  All other WDFW fishing regulations for Lake Roosevelt, Spokane River, and San Poil River remain in effect. 

Recreational fishing in Lake Roosevelt, and in the San Poil River between Boundary A to Boundary C, requires a Washington State freshwater license and compliance with established State fishing regulations. The Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) have established non-tribal recreational fishing regulations which differ from State regulations in this area. Be advised that anglers fishing in this area may be checked by tribal enforcement officers for a tribal license.

All waters upstream of Boundary C (above the 1310 mean sea elevation) and within the CCT Reservation boundary are under the regulatory authority of the CCT. For CCT fishing information call (509) 634-2110.

Salmon, steelhead issues topic of Tri-Cities meeting

FISHING – Washington fisheries managers will explain forecasts and rules for salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia Basin in a public meeting Wednesday (March 27), 5 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Benton PUD building, 2721 W. 10th Ave. in Kennewick.

Discussion topics will range from new barbless hook requirements to pre-season forecasts, including those for salmon and steelhead upstream of McNary Dam.

This season, salmon and steelhead anglers are required to use barbless hooks on the mainstem Columbia River downstream of the Washington-Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. The rule is likely to be applied to the entire Columbia and its tributaries.

The meeting is part of the salmon season-setting process known as North of Falcon, which involves representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and recreational and commercial fishing industries. Final salmon fishing seasons will be adopted in early April at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland.

Wash. commission amends recently adopted fishing rules

FISHING — In an unusual  move, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, meeting in a conference call today, reconsidered and amended several fishing regulation it had adopted at its March 1 meeting in Moses Lake.

The changes include increasing the annual limit for white sturgeon in the Columbia River from one to two, as well as changes related to Western Washington fisheries such as thresher sharks, rockfish and cabezon.

Read on for the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Commission to reconsider some Wash. fishing rules adopted last week

FISHING — In an unusual procedure, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is reconsidering some of the fishing regulations the nine-member panel adopted on March 1 during its rule-setting meeting in Moses Lake.

Reconsideration of at least four rules is on the agenda for a conference call meeting set for Friday (March 15).

Miranda Wecker, commission chair, said she wants to make sure the commissioners get all the information they need to make the proper decisions.

“We tried to fit too much into one day at Moses Lake,” she said, noting that she's heard some information since the meeting that should be discussed “to make sure we make the proper decisions.”

Commissioners will be allowed to reconsider any of the 2013 sport fishing rules that were adopted, since they have not yet been officially filed.

She said the four topics sure to be discussed include rockfish retention in Puget Sound, catch-and-release fishing for sharks and regulations and seasons for sturgeon and cabezon.

Commission approves new fishing rules; purchases wildlife land

FISHING — The Spokane River will be open to walleye fishing year round starting May 1 and the daily limit in Lake Roosevelt will increase from eight walleye a day to 16. 

This is just a sampling of the 70 sportfishing rules adopted March 1 during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Moses Lake.

The commission also approved purchase of land in Asotin County, the second in a multi-phase, multi-year plan to secure the 4-0 Ranch as part of the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area complex.

Read on for more details from the commission meeting.

Fishing, hunting, land additions on Wash. commission agenda

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has a full agenda of wide ranging topics to cover at its meeting Friday in Moses Lake.

Among the 15 agenda items, the panel will take public comments on proposed changes to hunting rules, consider adopting sportfishing rules and vote on buying a 1600-acre addition to the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area in Asotin County.

The meeting will convene at 8 a.m. at the Moses Lake Civic Center, 401 S. Balsam St.

The commission will accept public comments on 17  proposed hunting rule changes, which would include allowing the use of illuminated arrow nocks for archery equipment and restoring antlerless elk opportunities for archery hunters in Yakima County Units 352 (Nile) and 356 (Bumping).

The commission won't vote on the proposed changes to hunting rules until its April 12-13 meeting in Olympia.

However, the commission will consider adopting nearly 70 sportfishing rules, including proposals that would allow the use of two fishing poles on 50 additional lakes throughout the state and liberalize limits for walleye, bass and catfish in the Columbia River system. 

The standout among three proposed land transactions is the plan to buy 1,614 acres of the 4-0 Ranch in Asotin County as phase two of a multi-year project to secure a total of nearly 12,000 acres of riparian habitat for steelhead and bull trout and terrestrial habitat for deer, bighorn sheep and elk.

Wind River salmon-steelhead fishing changes detailed

FISHING — Rule changes for salmon and steelhead fishing, including a two-week late-March closure, will take effect next month on the Wind River, a popular Columbia River fishery. 

Click “continue reading” for the details posted today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Comment closes Tuesday on Washington fishing rule proposals

FISHING —  An update on proposed changes to sportfishing rules will be presented by state fish managers to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Feb. 8-9 meeting in Olympia.  See the preliminary meeting agenda here.

Fishing rule proposals affecting Eastern Washington angling include:

  • Liberalizing limits for bass, walleye and channel catfish in the main stem and tributaries of the Snake and Columbia rivers, including Lake Roosevelt.
  • Changing regulations on motorized boats on the Yakima and lower Grande Ronde.
  • Prohibiting use of internal combustion motors at Yocum Lake in Pend Oreille County.
  • Converting North Silver Lake in Spokane County to a year-round fishery for warmwater species.
  • Prohibiting trout fishing in Methow River stretches to protect steelhead.

Public comments on the proposals are being accepted on the agency’s website through Tuesday (Jan. 29).

The commisison is set to vote on the proposals at a March 1-2 meeting.