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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.

Palaniuk of Rathdrum hits $100,000 bass prize

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.

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.