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Model perfect fit for Beartooth Wilderness photo

BACKPACKING — I'm very picky about models for my outdoors photos.

For example, this ad for our newspaper Outdoors sections features writer Jim Kershner, who joined me on a multi-day backpacking trek over the high plateau of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Had I been with any other hiking/angling buddy, there likely would have been a fish in the picture. That would have cluttered up the scene and detracted from the clean look of the ad.

Thanks, Jim, for a job well done.

Slobs win: W. Medical Lake fishing access closed

FISHING — A chronic littering problem has resulted in the closure of the unofficial fishing access site at the north end of West Medical Lake in Spokane County.

Rudy Lopez of the Washington State Veterans Cemetery confirmed that the gate to the access site off Espanola Road has been locked, “no trespassing” signs have been posted and the Sheriff's Department has been asked to cite violators.

“It’s one of those cases of a few people ruining it for the majority,” Randy Osborne, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife district fisheries biologist, said last week in an appeal for anglers to clean up their act.

While Fish and Wildlife owns the public fishing access at the south end of the lake, the informal access at the north end is state land managed by the Veterans Cemetery. The road into the spot serves the pump that irrigates the cemetery.

Lopez said the littering has been persistent for the year and a half that he's worked at the cemetery.

“We're not directing blame on any one individual, but when we've contacted fishermen there they always say it's somebody else doing the littering,” he said. “We've hoped that they would support us by chipping in, doing the Boy Scout thing, leaving the place better than they found it.

“We did reach out the the prison at Airway Heights and they've been sending a detail out once a month to pick up. We're out there weekly picking up and Fish and Wildlife people come out regularly, but we can't keep up. It just gets trashed again.”

The public access at the south end of the West Medical will continue to be open through the lake's fishing season, which closes Sept. 30. Vehicles must display a Discover Pass or the Fish and Wildlife vehicle access pass that comes with the purchase of a fishing license.

Fish biolgist hopes anglers clean up their act

FISHING — In case you missed this disturbing but  important heads up published on  Sunday….

Fishermen may be trashing their privilege to use a fishing access to West Medical Lake.

A rocky point at the north end of the lake is regularly fouled with litter such as bait containers, food wrappers and lure packages despite repeated cleanup efforts.

“It’s one of those cases of a few people ruining it for the majority,” said Randy Osborne, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife district fisheries biologist.

While the agency owns the public fishing access at the south end of the lake, the informal access at the north end is state land managed by Washington State Veterans Cemetery.

The road into the spot serves the pump that irrigates the cemetery.

“There’s a tremendous garbage problem the cemetery workers have tolerated for a long time,” he said. “They’ve cleaned it up and our people have picked up, but there’s a percentage of people who use that site that won’t pack out what they pack in and it’s taking a toll.

“People like to fish off the rocks and the garbage they leave is not easy to collect. Cemetery workers are at the end of their rope on this. Access to that site is a privilege that anglers are going to lose if they don’t clean up their act.”

West Medical’s fishing season closes Sept. 30.


Hanford Reach chinook not biting, yet

FISHING — Patience.

A record run of fall chinook is headed to the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River below Priest Rapids Dam.

But they ain't there yet, according to this creek report from Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in the Tri-Cities.

An estimated 212 boats fished for salmon in the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 and Priest Rapids Dam) this past week.  WDFW staff interviewed 14 boats (25 anglers:100 pole hours) fishing for salmon with no catch. Staff also interviewed 8 bank anglers at Ringold with no catch.

Above are the latest graphs showing fish moving over Bonneville Dam, the first dam the fish encounter up the Columbia from the ocean, as well as McNary Dam, the last dam the salmon negotiate before heading either toward the Snake or up the Columbia into the Hanford Reach.

Snake River salmon fishing to open seven days a week

FISHING — Starting Saturday, Aug. 30, anglers will be able to catch and keep hatchery fall chinook salmon seven days a week on the Snake River.

Predicting another strong return of upriver bright chinook salmon this year, state fishery managers have expanded the daily catch limit to include six adult hatchery chinook, plus six hatchery jack chinook under 24 inches in length.

Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead on the Snake River, but must stop fishing for the day – for both hatchery chinook and steelhead – once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit.

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.

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

New fishing rules set to take effect Sept. 1 on the Tucannon River will reduce the daily catch limit for hatchery steelhead to two fish to provide additional protection for wild steelhead. The new rules for steelhead and other gamefish also:

  • Require anglers to use barbless hooks and keep any hatchery steelhead they catch.
  • Close the fishery upstream from Marengo at Turner Road Bridge.
  • Establish new fishing boundaries at the mouth of the Tucannon.

Details of the Tucannon River fishery are posted on WDFW’s website at fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

Whalen said the upcoming fall chinook fishery on the Snake River is expected to extend through Oct. 31, while the season for hatchery steelhead and other gamefish will run through Feb. 28.

Of the 919,000 upper river brights projected to enter the Columbia River this year, 61, 000 are wild fall chinook bound for the Snake River. 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. 

“We urge anglers to identify their catch before they remove it from the water,” he said. “State law prohibits removing chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless they are retained as part of the daily catch limit.”

The fishery will extend from waters of the Columbia River from the railroad bridge between Burbank and Kennewick upstream approximately 2.1 miles to the first power line crossing upstream of the navigation light on the point of Sacajawea State Park and on the Snake River from the Columbia River confluence to the Oregon State line (approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).

Watch for updates on the WDFW website.

New fishing rules proposed for Columbia River basin

FISHING — Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are seeking public comments on 32 proposed sportfishing rules they’re recommending for the Columbia River Basin.

The proposals cover fishing seasons, daily limits and other rules for the Columbia River Basin and mainstem Columbia River. 

For example, WDFW is recommending proposals that would: 

  • Close all rivers, streams and beaver ponds in the Columbia River Basin to fishing unless otherwise stated in the rules pamphlet, and implement additional conservation measures to provide greater protection for juvenile anadromous fish.
  • Change open dates for most year-round lakes to March 1 through Oct. 31 for lakes in Asotin, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima and Walla Walla counties.
  • Eliminate the retention of sturgeon on the Snake River and its tributaries. Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing would be maintained.

Review all of the rule proposals and comment on this WDFW webpage.

Comments will be accepted through Oct. 16.

Fisheries managers have recommended 32 of the proposals submitted by the public in May move forward for additional review. The webpage has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.

Five public meetings are scheduled through September to discuss the proposed rules with the public, including two in far-Eastern Washington:

  • Clarkston: 6 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 26, Walla Walla Community College, Clarkston Main Building Multipurpose Room, 1470 Bridge St.
  • Spokane Valley: 6 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 27, WDFW Spokane Regional Office, 2315 N. Discovery Place

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will get it's first formal look at the revised proposals at a Nov. 7-8 meeting in Olympia.

Fall chinook season to open early in Priest Rapids pool

FISHING — This announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is good news if you're champing at the bit to cast for the early portion of the record run of fall chinook heading up the Columbia River.

Action: Fall chinook season opens two days early to coincide with Labor Day weekend. 

Effective date:  Aug 30, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).

Species affected:  Chinook salmon

Location:  Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam

General Rules: Daily limit six (6) chinook only; up to two adults may be retained. All other rules for Columbia River apply, including barbless hooks. Two poles allowed through Aug 31, 2014.

Reason for action: The standard opening date for fall chinook in the Priest Rapids Pool is September 1. With Labor Day weekend falling on August 30, 2014, opening two days early will allow for additional angling opportunity.

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license  Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries.  The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.

Monitor fishing rule changes on the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the WDFW webpage.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye season to close after Labor Day

FISHING — Not much time left, according to this announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:  Lake Wenatchee closes for sockeye salmon fishing. 

Effective date: Sept. 1, 2014 (one hour after official sunset).

Species affected:  Sockeye salmon

Location:  Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.)

Reason for action:  The majority of adult sockeye salmon currently in Lake Wenatchee will soon become largely unavailable to anglers due to their annual migration to the spawning grounds on the White and Little Wenatchee Rivers.  Sockeye condition and desirability will have declined drastically. This closure will further reduce unnecessary impacts to bull trout with such relatively few sockeye still being present in Lake Wenatchee. 

Washington website devoted to high lakes fishing

FISHING — A new “High Lakes” section of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's interactive “Fish Washington” web site has is online with details to help anglers find fish off the beaten path.

High lakes fishing has deteriorated in Washington over the past few decades as national parks have scaled back fish stocking where trout were not native — which means most high lakes in the Olympics, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks.

Don't expect a lot of state staff time to go into keeping this site up to day or full of details — that would take a lot of field time the agency doesn't have.

Perhaps the biggest value of this new site is easy access to stocking figures to help anglers channel their high-country efforts to the right waters.

Prime time to hook smallies on the Ronde

FISHING — Silver Bow Fly Shop guide Sean Visintainer posted these photos to remind us that August is prime time for catching chunky smallmouth bass in the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers.  Says Visintainer:

Bassin' is always a great alternative to trout fishing during the dog days of summer. Aggressive fish that will crush flies on the surface or just below. Try it for yourself or holler at us if you are interested in a guided trip on the Grande Ronde during the summer months.

Sediment from flood kills central Idaho salmon

FISHING — Hundreds of adult chinook salmon needed to create future generations have been killed after rainstorms sent sediment into a fish trap on the South Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho.

Officials tell the Idaho Statesman that the loss means significantly fewer adult chinook salmon will return to the South Fork Salmon in 2018.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the rain event on Aug. 6 caused sediment to flow into holding ponds and suffocate the fish.

Idaho Fish and Game as well as Nez Perce Tribe workers rushed tanker trunks to the facility to save as many salmon as possible.

Workers saved about 200 fish but about 1,200 died.

A few more salmon might return but the peak of the run is over.

Limit upped to 2 chinook at Westport

FISHING — Starting Monday, Aug. 18, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days per week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Ron Warren, WDFW fisheries policy lead, said the previous daily limit of one chinook off Westport was designed to ensure the fishery would remain open the entire season.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the pace of catch in the area,” Warren said. “With sufficient quota remaining, we want to maximize the recreational fishing opportunity through the rest of the season.”

Ocean salmon fisheries are scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2 and through Sept. 21 in marine areas 3 and 4. However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website.

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and catch guidelines, is available in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Washington Fish, Wildlife director signing off at end of year

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT – After nearly six years at the helm of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife,  Phil Anderson, 64, has informed the state Fish and Wildlife Commission he will resign from his position as director on Dec. 31.

“Deciding when to move on is a difficult decision,” Anderson said. “But after 20 great years with the department, the time is right for me to step aside. I will leave knowing that the talented people I have had the privilege to work with here at WDFW are fully capable of taking on the challenges that lie ahead.”

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will begin the recruitment process for a new director in the next few weeks.

Here's more info from a just a just-posted WDFW media release.

“Phil has done a tremendous job leading the department through some difficult and challenging issues over the past several years,” said Miranda Wecker, chair of the commission. “His strong conservation ethic, dedication to sound fiscal management and expertise in intergovernmental relations have greatly benefitted the department and the state’s fish and wildlife resources it protects and manages.”

As director, Anderson guided the department through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. During the unprecedented budget shortfall, state General Fund support for WDFW declined by nearly $50 million – 45 percent – threatening department operations and fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state.

To address the shortfall, Anderson and his staff worked to restructure the agency while continuing to provide key services and maintain a high conservation standard for Washington’s fish and wildlife. As part of that effort, WDFW worked closely with stakeholders to develop new revenue streams and reduce the department’s reliance on the state General Fund.

Also under Anderson’s leadership, the department developed a plan to guide state conservation and management of gray wolves as they recolonize in Washington – a controversial issue that has evoked strong reactions from people on both sides of the Cascade Range.

The department implemented the plan in 2011, after working closely with a number of citizen advisors, including those representing conservationists, hunters and livestock producers. The plan establishes clear recovery objectives for gray wolves, along with procedures for addressing predation on livestock and impacts on ungulates such as deer, elk and caribou.

Throughout his career at WDFW, Anderson has played a leading role in working with Indian tribes in a number of forums, including the annual salmon co-management process known as North of Falcon. During this process, the state and tribes set seasons for marine and freshwater salmon fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas.

Anderson also has served as WDFW’s representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and serves as a commissioner on the Pacific Salmon Commission.

Over the last decade, Anderson and his team successfully maintained fishing opportunities by establishing new sustainable fisheries that allow the harvest of abundant wild stocks and hatchery-produced fish while meeting conservation objectives for wild populations listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Key to this effort has been the use of selective-fishing methods, including mark-selective fisheries that allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon but require that they release wild salmon. Establishing these fisheries, where appropriate, has resulted in additional harvest opportunities.

Anderson also has led WDFW’s effort to change state hatchery operations to support the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead populations.

“I am proud of the fact that we have successfully maintained fish production while reforming hatchery practices to ensure that they are compatible with efforts to rebuild wild fish populations,” Anderson said. “The job is definitely not done, but we have made tremendous strides in the right direction that bode well for the future of Washington’s fish stocks and fisheries.”

Anderson, who lives in Westport, said he plans to spend more time with his family and will look for other opportunities to contribute to resource conservation and management.

Anderson joined WDFW in 1994 after serving seven years on the PFMC as a private citizen, including as the council’s chair. Anderson was appointed WDFW director in 2009 after serving nearly nine months as the agency’s interim director. He previously served as WDFW’s deputy director for resource policy and as assistant director of the department’s Intergovernmental Resource Management Program.

Wet your appetite for water sports and Pend Oreille County festival Saturday

WATERSPORTS — Learn more about your favorite water sport and be introduced to a wide variety of new water-based outdoor activities at the Pend Oreille River Water Sports Festival on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the boat launch/water park in Cusick from noon until 8 p.m. 

The festival coincides with the 33-rd annual two-day Poker Paddle.

The festival, organized by the Pend Oreille County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, is FREE and offers a line-up of water sports seminars, demonstrations, agency information booths, food and beverage booths, contests, prizes and live music.

Visit with representatives from Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Boundary Dam Recreation Area, Albeni Falls Recreation Area, Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Pend Oreille River Water Trail Committee, the County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and more.

Check out the offering the county parks department describes:

Food, summer-time snacks and beverages will be available for sale or bring your own picnic basket. Enjoy the lovely riverfront park picnic areas, swimming beach, walking trails and the four live bands that are also scheduled to play throughout the afternoon. As an added feature, this Festival is also the final destination for Day One of the ever popular Poker Paddle and participants will be arriving throughout the afternoon. The awards ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m.

Sixteen free half-hour seminars are scheduled from noon until 7:30 p.m. Topics include “Making Your Own Fishing Lures”, “Snorkeling and Scuba Diving”, “Waterfowl Hunting”, “Teaching your Kids to Fish”, “Boating Safety”, “Beginning Fly Fishing”, “Paddle-boarding”, “Bass Fishing”, “Kayaking Techniques”, “ The Pend Oreille River Water Trail”, “Water Skiing and Knee Boarding Basics”, “Ice Fishing”, “Purchasing Paddling Watercraft & Equipment”, “Beginning Sailing”, “Lake Fishing in Pend Oreille County” and “Winterizing your Boat”.

Children’s activities will include a Water Safety Photo Booth and Bucky Beaver from the Corps of Engineers and everyone will enjoy day-long demonstrations on how to make survival bracelets from paracord. Bring your duck and goose calls and participate in the duck and goose calling contest. Load up your entire family along with lawn chairs and other summer outdoor necessities and enjoy the day. Activities will take place rain or shine and everyone should be prepared for changeable weather.

The Festival is sponsored by Ben Franklin and Seattle City Light and all proceeds of the festival will be used to promote parks and recreation within Pend Oreille County.

For additional information about the Festival or Poker Paddle contact Mike Lithgow at the Pend Oreille County Community Development Department at 509 447-6457 mlithgow@pendoreille.org.

Elk hoof disease on Washington wildlife panel agenda

WILDLIFE — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting 2014-15 hunting seasons for migratory waterfowl and discuss a disease that affects the hooves of elk in the southwest portion of the state during a public meeting that starts today and runs through Saturday in Olympia.

Also on the meeting agenda is a proposed regulation that would require hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected areas of southwest Washington on site to help minimize the spread of the disease.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. both days.

  • Live on TVW:  The meeting will be broadcast live online.

State waterfowl seasons proposed by WDFW are similar to those adopted last year. The general duck season would be open for 107 days – from Oct. 11-15 and from Oct. 18-Jan. 25. A special youth hunting weekend is also proposed for Sept. 20-21.

As in previous years, goose hunting seasons would vary by management areas across the state, but most would open in mid-October and run through late January.

In other business, the commission will receive a briefing on a scientific panel’s determination that a disease that leaves elk in the St. Helens and Willapa Hills areas with misshapen hooves most likely involves a type of bacterial infection.

Members of the panel, composed of veterinarians and researchers throughout the state, agreed that the disease closely resembles contagious ovine digital dermatitis in sheep. The panel's diagnosis is consistent with the findings of the USDA National Animal Disease Center and four other independent diagnostic laboratories that have tested samples of elk hooves submitted by WDFW since last year.

For more information on elk hoof disease, see WDFW’s wildlife health webpage.

Canada’s massive mining dam failure reinforces opposition to Pebble Mine in Alaska

FISHING — Just as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opened another round of comments on the controversial proposal to authorized the Pebble Mine near the headwaters of Alaska's prized Bristol Bay salmon fisheries, a disaster in Canada has struck an emphatic case in point.

Monday’s devastating tailings dam failure at the Mount Polley copper mine in British Columbia sent an estimated 4.5 million cubic meters of mine waste solids and 2.6 billion gallons of mine waste liquids into streams, rivers, and lakes in the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed. 

  • See an aerial survey of the impacts in the video above.

The massive release of materials from a mine tailings pond near Quesnel is “virtually impossible to clean up,” according to a marine researcher — and may have already damaged salmon habitat beyond repair.

Dr. Peter Ross heads Vancouver Aquarium’s ocean pollution research program and said on Wednesday the spill likely spells death for the fish that use the affected waterways.

Missoula-based Bonnie Gestring makes a few sobering comparisons between the Mount Polley Mine in a post on Earth Island Journal:

  • Both mines are large, open pit, copper porphyry mines at the headwaters of important salmon streams.
  • The company behind the proposed Pebble Mine, the Pebble Limited Partnership, has repeatedly pointed to the Fraser River as an example of a watershed where mining and fish can coexist.
  • Knight Piesold, the firm that provided designs for the tailings pond lifts at Mount Polley, also provided the designs for the tailings pond for the proposed Pebble Mine.

Moreover, a consulting firm in 2011 warned the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment that a contingency plan was needed should the tailings pond holding mining waste at the Mount Polley Mine fail.  No contingencies were made.

“It is the toxic time bomb explosion that all of us who've fought the Pebble Mine have predicted could happen,” writes of the National Resource Defense Council in the Huffington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already taken the first step to stop development of the Pebble Mine under the Clean Water Act, but the agency opened up the process for one more public comment period before making a final decision.

Care to comment?

  • Here's an update and another video from the Vancouver Sun.

Tips offered for catching sockeye piling into Lake Wenatchee

FISHING — As this year's record run of Columbia River sockeye pushes upstream, a record number of the salmon is headed into Lake Wenachee, where savvy anglers are finding some good fishing.

This blog post by Andy Walgamott offers some creative tips to catching the sometimes finicky sockeyes at this sweet lake near Leavenworth.

25-pound king tops Brewster Salmon Derby

FISHING — Although there were a few jokes about the prevalence of “smoked fish,” the sentiments were genuine last weekend as the ninth annual Brewster King Salmon Derby dedicated proceeds of a raffle to victims of the sprawling Carlton Complex wildfires.

The three-day derby raised $1,700 for fire victims in a drawing for a donated YETI cooler.

Just as important, the 275 participating anglers and their families spent money at local businesses, including those in Pateros, where many homes were lost to the fires sparked by lightning more than three weeks ago.

Wind that fanned the continuing fires forced anglers off the water in fog-like bank of smoke on Saturday, but conditions improved again on Sunday.

The Brewster area of the Columbia River is flush with fish this year, including a record run of sockeye salmon.

The largest fish of the derby was a 25-pound chinook caught by Wiley Flohr of Wenatchee to win the youth division.

The top adult division salmon weighed 21.85 pounds caught by Corey Maynard.


Curlew Lake tiger musky state record pending

FISHING — A tiger musky officially weighed at 37 pounds, 14 ounces caught in Curlew Lake on July 25 is a Washington state record for the species — pending the official declaration from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

David Hickman of Richland caught the lunker that measured 50.375 inches long by 23.75 inches in girth. The fish was weighed the day it was caught on the certified scale at Anderson's Grocery in Republic.

It easily exceeds the current state tiger musky record of 31.25 pounds caught in Western Washington's Mayfield Lake on Sept. 22, 2001.

“The paperwork still needs two more signatures to make it official, but I think it's safe to say that it will be the new state record,” Kent Mayer, a warmwater fisheries program biologist in Spokane, said Tuesday.

The tiger musky is a cross between two formidable predators — eggs produced by female muskellunge are fertilized in hatcheries with the milt of male northern pike. The resulting hybrid “tiger muskies” are sterile, enabling fish managers to stock them in small numbers as a trophy fishery without worry that they will reproduce out of control and gobble up other fisheries.

It's illegal in Washington to catch and keep a tiger musky under 50 inches long. Anglers must know how to distinguish tiger muskies from northern pike, which are considered an invasive species in Washington.

  • Northern pike display horizontal rows of light-colored round to oval spots on a dark background.
  • Tiger muskies display irregular shaped dark colored vertical markings on a light background. Sides sometimes have alternating patterns of bars and spots on a light background but patterns NEVER resemble the spots of a northern pike.

Tiger musky anglers are a patient lot. Hickman, who says he's pursued tiger muskies for years, said he's used to making many casts for the occasional payoff.  During the recent family vacation at the Ferry County lake, he said he'd landed and released only one other tiger musky — a 36-incher — and lost a second lunker perhaps in the 50-inch range at the boat.

His third tiger musky of the trip, the pending record, struck his white spinner bait on the ninth and final day of the vacation.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist in Pasco, said he measured Hickman's tiger musky at 11 a.m. on July 28 after the fish had been kept on ice in the livewell of the angler's boat all weekend.

Three days after being caught, the fish measured 38 pounds even on the agency's unofficial scale, Hoffarth said.

The fish was reared at the Meseberg Hatchery in Franklin County near Ringold prior to release as a juvenile into Curlew Lake, said John Whalen, regional fisheries manager in Spokane.

Other facts:

  • Tiger muskies have been stocked for trophy fisheries in about 10 Idaho lakes and seven in Washington, including Silver, Newman and Curlew.
  • Idaho's state record tiger musky, 44.26 pounds, was caught Aug. 6, 2013, by Edward Kalinowski of New Meadows in Little Payette Lake.
  • See a video the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has posted with tips for catching tiger muskies.

Bass anglers organizing to chart Lake Spokane, update maps

FISHING — Navionics and members of the Spokane Bass Club are teaming on Saturday to create a better HD bathymetric (topographical) map of Lake Spokane/Long Lake.

  • Anglers who have boats outfitted with sonar units can join the effort by emailing Tyler Brinks, tylerbrinks@yahoo.com. The group will meet at the Nine Mile Recreation Area launch (Discover Pass required) at 8 a.m. and work until noon.

The process involves idling and surveying the lake using our GPS/fish finders and then uploading to Navionics who will update their SonarCharts™maps within a week.

Learn how to record sonar logs using your Humminbird, Lowrance, Raymarine, Simrad, B&G and Garmin equipment.

Save to any card, upload, and see results in about one week.

Fly fishers cast out to disabled vets

FISHING — Project Healing Waters has reached out through fly fishing to help several dozen Spokane-area disabled veterans since the Spokane-area chapter was founded two years ago.

Members of the Spokane Fly Fishers joined the 173 other volunteer organizations organized with PHW dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans. The emphasis is on healing through fly fishing, fly tying education and outings.

  • A national fact sheet is available here.

The group continues to seek donors of money and good-quality fly fishing equipment for use by the vets as well as volunteers interested in helping outings and clinics.

Contact Norm Scott, (509) 315-8867, email phwffspokane@gmail.com.


Hanford Reach fall chinook salmon fishery enhancements

Read up on the latest from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife on the fall chinook salmon fishery enhancements on the Hanford Reach.

McDowell Lake among waters proposed for rotenone treatment

FISHING – McDowell Lake, a prized fly-fishing water in Stevens County is, among 11 lakes in Eastern Washington proposed for treatment to optimize the waters for trout.

 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials want to treat three lake systems with rotenone, a naturally occurring pesticide commonly used to remove undesirable fish species from lakes and streams.

McDowell Lake, a standout trout fishery on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, has gone downhill as nongame fish such as tench have proliferated.

Other trout-management waters proposed for treatment this fall include the Hampton Lake chain and Sago, Hourglass, and Widgeon Lakes in Grant County to remove species including bass, bullhead, stunted panfish and tench.

The Hampton Chain is made up of Upper and Lower Hampton Lake, Hampton Slough, Hen Lake, Dabbler Lake, Marie Lake and Juvenile Lake.

“The goal is to restore trout populations by removing competing species that have essentially taken over the lake's resources,” said Bruce Bolding, warmwater fish program manager.

“Illegally stocked fish compete with trout fry for food and prey, rendering efforts to stock trout fry ineffective.”

Public meetings to discuss the  proposed treatments are set for Wednesday, July 23, at two locations starting at 6 p.m.:

  • Ephrata, at the WDFW Region 2 Office.
  • Colville, at the WDFW District 1 Office, 755 S. Main St.

The decision on whether to go ahead with the treatments will be made in September. 

The agency says, “Rotenone is an organic substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use as a fish pesticide.” It disrupts the ability of fish’s gills to process oxygen from the water.

WDFW has used rotenone in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years, and is used by other fish and wildlife management agencies nationwide. 

Family bike ride celebrates wildlife refuge anniversary

WILDLIFE WATCHING —The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge has been marking its 75th anniversary with public events this summer. Next on the schedule:

• July 26: Blue Goose Family Fun Bike Ride, a family-friendly 10.5-mile ride on packed, graded dirt roads. Start anytime after 8:30 a.m. to finish by noon, when prize drawings will start at headquarters. Anniversary cake and bluegrass music. Free.

Info:  (509) 684-8384, fws.gov/littlependoreille

Directions from Spokane: Drive U.S. 395 north to Arden (about 6 miles south of Colville). Turn right on Hall Road. At the stop sign, turn left onto Old Arden Hwy. Take the third right run onto Artman-Gibson Road. Go about 4 miles. At four-way intersection, turn right onto Kitt-Narcisse Road and follow it for 2.2 miles. Where road forks, bear right onto Bear Creek Road. Follow this dirt road 3.3 miles to refuge headquarters.

Fires scorch hopes for sockeye fishermen

FISHING — The heat and smoke of wildfires is forcing some anglers to temporarily chill their enthusiasm for catching a share of the record run of sockeye heading into the upper Columbia.

Pateros area is being evacuated tonight because of the Carlton Complex fires, and the city of Brewster is feeling the heat just as anglers are piling in to reap the bounty of fish.

And anglers could be blocked from Saturday's opening of the Lake Wenatchee sockeye season by firefighting efforts that have closed the state park boat access.



Fires may block access to Lake Wenatchee sockeye anglers

FISHING — All roads are currently closed to Lake Wenatchee, where a popular sockeye salmon fishery is set to open Saturday (July 19).

With several wildfires burning in the area, state officials have closed U.S. Highway 2 east of Stevens Pass as well as Old State Route 209 (“Chumstick Road”) between Leavenworth and the lake.

Washington State Parks has also closed entry to Lake Wenatchee State Park, the site of the primary boat launch on the lake.

“The sockeye fishery will open as scheduled, but anglers may have to wait for a few days to get to it,” said Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We strongly advise they check reports on fire and road conditions before they head out.”

Sources of that information include:

Information on the upcoming sockeye fishery is available on WDFW's website.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye season starts Saturday

FISHING — The record run of sockeye up the Columbia River has made way for a salmon season on Lake Wenatchee starting Saturday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced.

However, fires may block road access for the opener.

Action:   Lake Wenatchee opens for sockeye salmon fishing. 

Effective date: July 19, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).

Species affected:   Sockeye salmon

Daily limit: The daily limit per angler is 6 sockeye, 12 inches in length or greater.  

Location:   Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.)

Reason for action:   Based on current sockeye passage at both Tumwater Dam and mainstem Columbia River Dams, at least 65,000 total sockeye are projected to be destined for Lake Wenatchee. This provides an estimated 42,000 sockeye to be available for harvest above the natural spawning escapement goal of 23,000 fish.  

Other information: Selective gear rules (up to three single barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, knotless nets required) in effect. Anglers may fish with 2 poles as long as they possess a valid two-pole endorsement.  A night closure will be in effect.  Legal angling hours are one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.  Bull trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon must be released unharmed without removing the fish from the water.

NOTE:   The Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery may be closed on short notice depending on participation and catch rates.  Anglers are advised to check daily the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_freshwater.j

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.  Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the Columbia River fisheries.  The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin. 

Montana investigating pike in Lake Mary Ronan

FISHING — Sounds like bucket biologists are back at work in Western Montana.

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is investigating whether a fisherman’s report that he caught two pike in Lake Mary Ronan last month indicates a serious problem.

Fisheries biologists plan to use nets to catch fish in the lake and determine if the suspected illegal introduction has resulted in the establishment of a pike population. Regional fisheries manager Mark Deleray says they’re trying to confirm whether any reproduction has occurred.

FWP says northern pike are predatory and could impact the kokanee salmon and trout fishery. Kokanee in Lake Mary Ronan serve as the egg source for stocking lakes across the state.

The investigation follows recent Fish and Wildlife Commission policy changes that require the FWP to formulate a plan to deal with illegally introduced fish.

More of the Columbia opened to 6-sockeye daily limit

FISHING — With a record run charging upstream, the catch limit for sockeye is being increased to six a day in the Columbia River upstream from the Tri-Cities.

On Friday the limit was increased from four to six upstream from Priest Rapids to Wells Dam.

Starting Tuesday, the sockeye daily limit will be increased for the mainstem Columbia above the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.

On Wednesday, the six-fish limit will be allowed in the Wells Dam area, making the entire upper Columbia to Chief Joseph Dam — except the section that's closed to fishing and access because of Wanapum Dam repairs — open for six a day.

Here are the details just announced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action: Anglers will be able to retain eight salmon and up to six adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam.

Effective dates and locations on Mainstem Columbia River:

  1. From Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam, July 15 – July 31, 2014.
  2. From Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam, July 11 – Aug. 31, 2014.
  3. From Wanapum Dam to Wells Dam, July 11 – Oct. 15, 2014.
  4. From Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster, July 16 – Aug. 31, 2014.
  5. From Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, July 11 – Oct. 15, 2014

Species affected: Sockeye salmon

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be far in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches. Daily limit eight salmon, up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to six may be sockeye. Release coho and wild adult chinook.  Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached. 

Other Information:  All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

It’s a record run! Sockeye limit upped to 6

FISHING — A rocketing spike of sockeye salmon up the Columbia River set run records this week and prompted the Washington Department of Fish Wildlife to increase the daily limit of sockeye to SIX in the river upstream from Priest Rapids Dam (details below).

That big pulse of fish at Bonneville is on its way upstream to the popular upper Columbia fisheries — where anglers already are socking it to the sockeyes — from the Hanford Reach almost to Brewster.

Last week, fish managers raised their expectations from a run of around 340,000 to 425,000, calling the run the second largest since records have been kept.

This week, the joint federal-state-tribal Technical Advisory Council increased the forecast to a total of 526,367 sockeye over Bonneville — a jump of 10,694 fish from the record run in 2012. 

And some are suggesting the number could go to more than 600,000 — that's in the realm of colossal.

Fish counters tallied more than 34,000 sockeye up the Bonneville Dam fish ladders on on July 4 and again on July 5.  The numbers dropped significantly after that and will taper from there, fish managers said.

Anglers are getting to harvest the bounty. Today WDFW announced a sockeye fishing season starting immediately at Lake Osoyoos as well as an increased daily bag limit as follows:

Action: Anglers will be able to retain eight salmon, including up to six adult sockeye salmon, in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam.

Effective dates and locations: Mainstem Columbia River:

  1. From Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam, July 11-Aug. 31, 2014.
  2. From Wanapum Dam to Wells Dam, July 11-Oct. 15, 2014.
  3. From Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster, July 16-Aug. 31, 2014.
  4. From Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, July 11-Oct 15, 2014.

Species affected: Sockeye salmon.

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be far in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds.  The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches.  Daily limit eight salmon, up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to six may be sockeye.  Release coho and wild adult chinook.  Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached. 

Other information:  All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.