Latest from The Spokesman-Review
BIG GAME — We don't think of elk as being creatures game for hot weather, but the elk enjoying the sanctuary of the near-desert conditions on the Handford Nuclear Reservation are doing just fine, thank you.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A study done in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks in Alberta and British Columbia found that even one hiker an hour on trails in those parks sent predators and prey scurrying.
However, elk and other herbivores were not as deterred by hikers as were wolves.
Read the Toronto Globe report.
BOATING — Check with your mechanic, but most are recommending that you treat your boat gas with at least a water remover, says Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service at Chelan.
"Especially now when boats are likely to set idle for longer periods of time, it is a good idea," he said.
"The lower performance that comes with the ethanol added to most gasolines has been responsible for some mechanical issues. It is an especially good idea to fill the tank and treat the fuel if you are putting your boat away for the winter."
FISHERIES — Kokanee numbers in Lake Pend Oreille are rebounding, helping placate worries that flooding this spring would put a dent in the coveted game fish's population.
The landlocked salmon is showing the highest spawning numbers since 2004, according to an Idaho Fish and Game Department report summarized by the Associated Press. Current estimates show there are as many as 382,000 spawning kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille tributaries.
Fishing for kokanee once again has moved from a dream to a possibility, department officials said.
The flooding in the 1990s was sudden and intense, while this year's flooding was spread out over weeks.
That likely means the kokanee didn't get flushed out of the lake during spring floods.
"This year's runoff wasn't exceptionally high, but it lasted several weeks, which is a different scenario than the very high-magnitude, but short-duration floods of 1996-97," said Jim Fredericks, Fish & Game's regional fishery manager.
Idaho's wildlife agency also says its work eradicating lake trout and rainbow trout that prey on kokanee is also helping.
More than 115,000 lake trout, introduced to the lake in 1925, have been removed from the lake through netting and angler incentives between 2006 and 2010. The number of kokanee that spawn has increased annually since predator-removal efforts started.
In 2000, kokanee fishing was closed in the lake as the fish's population dwindled. Since then, the kokanee's numbers have risen.
"If the upward trend we are seeing continues, I'm optimistic that we'll have a real shot at re-opening the kokanee fishery again within the next couple of years," said Andy Dux, a principal Fish & Game biologist working on the lake.
BOATING — The public boat ramp at Newman Lake will be closed for repairs starting Wednesday (Oct. 5), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week.
The public access remains open, but no boat launching will be possible.
The agency does not yet know how long the closure will continue.
Newman Lake is open to fishing year-round.
SALMON FISHING — With a strong run of coho moving up the Columbia, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced a coho fishing season that starts Wednesday (Oct. 5) on the Wenatchee, Methow and Icicle rivers, expanding fishing opportunities already under way in those waters.
Predicting a strong return of coho to the upper Columbia River system, state fishery managers scheduled coho fisheries through Oct. 31 on all three rivers.
Read on for the details.
FISHING — Here are the latest salmon and steelhead reports from around the region:
Yakima River Fall Salmon Fishery Report Sept. 26 - Oct. 2 (From WDFW):
Angler effort and harvest for fall Chinook and coho continues to rise on the lower Yakima River. This past week there were an estimated 887 angler trips on the Yakima River for salmon. WDFW staff sampled 147 anglers with 11 adult Chinook, 5 jacks, and 1 coho. Anglers averaged one Chinook for 25 hours of fishing. Estimated harvest for the week was 91 adult Chinook, 50 jacks, and 8 coho. For the season an estimated 142 adult Chinook, 115 chinook jacks, and 8 coho have been harvested.
Hanford Reach Sport Fishery Summary Oct. 2 (WDFW):
Staff interviewed 479 boats last week with 513 adult Chinook, 126 jacks, and 2 coho. Anglers averaged slightly better than one salmon per boat. An estimated 2,608 adult Chinook, 641 jacks, and 5 coho were harvested this past week. There were an estimated 6,070 angler trips this past week. This past week was likely a record for both total angler trips and Chinook caught in a week for the Hanford Reach area. For the season, 5,705 adult Chinook, 1,259 jacks, and 37 coho have been harvested.
On September 30, the in-season return estimate for the Hanford Reach was updated. The adult return estimate is now predicted to be 64,361 adult Chinook (not including hatchery returns). The in-season estimate dropped 6,000 adult Chinook from the previous estimate (9/23) but WDFW is still predicting a strong return.
Methow River steelhead (from Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service):
Fly fishing is king, but jig and bobber guys can do well too. If you’re fly fishing, drift a glo bug under a strike indicator. If you’re a “swinger”, throw big wooly buggers and leeches. Jig and bobber guys can choose between Mack’s Lures Glo-Getter jigs or Worden Lures Maxi Jigs. Try the brightest colors you can get. Fish the same jig and slip bobber combos in the mainstem of the Columbia, but bait them with a chunk of shrimp cured with Pautzke’s Fire Cure. Remember wild steelhead release rules are in effect. Pinch those barbs.
Upper Columbia salmon (from Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service):
It's the tail end of the salmon season above Brewster. Fish Super Baits and Plug Cut Super Baits behind big rotating flashers until the season ends Oct. 15. The fish are getting uglier, but they are big and pull hard. An extra bonus is their meat is still good.
CAMPING — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will rely largely on volunteers and dramatically reduce services to keep many of its recreation sites open, including Dent Acres Campground on Dworshak Reservoir.
The agency’s Walla Walla District is facing a 9 percent cut in its recreation budget and will close some of its sites, convert others to day use only and eliminate services like trash collection and bathroom cleaning, according to a report by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.
The money-saving measures won’t affect any of the agency’s sites along the Snake River in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. But other sites on the lower Snake River and on Dworshak Reservoir will feel the pinch.
Read on for more of Barker's story.
STATE LANDS — Drivers have a new option for buying the $30 annual Discover Pass required for acces to all state parks and most state lands. The Department of Licensing is authorized to accept payment of the Discover Pass when renewing vehicle license tabs.
The pass is available for purchase by those with a vehicle registration expiration date on or after Oct. 1, 2011.
The Discover Pass was created by the 2011 Legislature. Since spring, the pass has been required, with some exceptions, for vehicles entering parks or recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Vehicle owners may purchase the pass at DOL vehicle licensing offices or when renewing tabs online.
Buyers of the pass through the DOL process receive their passes in the mail from WDFW within 10 business days of renewal and purchase.
Transaction and dealer fees ($5) are not charged for annual passes purchased directly from DOL. However, if you buy the pass from a hunting and fishing license vendor, the fees are charged.
The Discover Pass also can be purchased in person from nearly 600 vendors across the state, by telephone (866-320-9933) or online.
In addition, the Discover Pass can be purchased from state parks (for $30) when staff is available.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — “A bear coming at you is way more scary than an avalanche, thunderstorms, crevasses,” said Barry Blanchard, a top Canadian alpinist noted for pushing the standards of highly technical, high-risk alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies and the Himalayas.
But last week near Lake Louise, Alberta, Blanchard had to climb very high in a tree to avoid a grizzly that never heard the rule that black bears climb trees but grizzlies don't.
Read the story in the Calgary Herald.
FISHING WITH KIDS — Take it from a pro who sees a lot of families fishing:
"Tailor your young children’s fishing activities to their interest," said Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service out of Chelan. "I’ve got grandkids all over the spectrum. Some like to catch fish. Some like to hook the fish and hand it off. Others just like to play in the guts when everybody else catches the fish…I didn’t say they were normal."
STEELHEAD FISHING — A couple of tidbits to ponder:
- Idaho's state record steelhead was 30 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.
- Idaho is the only inland Western state with ocean-run salmon and steelhead.
The Spokesman-Review once again is joining the Outdoor Writers Association of America in sponsoring a contest for youth outdoor writing.
The contest is open to high school students from the newspaper's circulation area.
Entries must be on the general topic of "outdoors." This includes subjects such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, nature and conservation. Any literary style - including humor, fiction, letters or poetry - is acceptable.
Other contest rules are as follows:
- Contestants must be in grades 9-12 and from the newspaper circulation area in Eastern Washington or North Idaho.
- Stories must be original and may be no longer than 1,000 words.
- Entries should include the writer's name, school, grade, home address and telephone.
- Stories should be typed.
- Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 18.
- Limit is one entry per student.
E-mail entries (preferred) to email@example.com. Receipt of all e-mail entries will be acknowledged.
Entries also can be mailed or delivered to Youth Outdoor Writing Contest, Sports Department, The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane 99201.
Newspaper writers and editors will pick the best entries and award one $50 first-place prize and at least two $30 runner-up prizes.
The national contest offers awards of up to $200 for the best outdoors articles published by high school students in 2010.
WATERFOWLING — Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.
With the waterfowl seasons about to open, Idaho Fish and game officials are urging waterfowl hunters who hunt from boats are to wear life jackets and take necessary safety precautions when on the water.
Nationwide last year, 15 hunters lost their lives in boating accidents. Eleven victims drowned because they were not wearing life jackets, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation reports. Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year.
Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. A hunter who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders numb numb and unable to swim.
Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person stay afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.
Read on for more timely tips:
GREAT OUTDOOR STORIES — Here's latest update from Erin Bolster, the wrangler who rode her horse to the rescue of a boy being charged by a grizzly bear:
I just wanted to let you know, Letterman has been moved to the 11th. They decided they really wanted Tonk out there and they want to make him and me a bigger feature. So, in order to allow Tonk a more relaxed 5-day trip to NYC (in his own climate controlled van no less) and to schedule me on a date when they could allot me two segments, the producer set us to film and air on Oct. 11th. I'm quite excited and I think Tonk will be a real treat on camera.
WILDLIFE – Montana wildlife officials say another pneumonia outbreak has killed several bighorn sheep in the Skalkaho area in western Montana.
Officials tell the Missoulian that two dead sheep recently died from severe cases of pneumonia, and that a third sheep had been dead too long to identify the cause.
Veterinarian Brent Rice of Hamilton says smoky conditions in the area from forest fires might have stressed the bighorns and made them more susceptible.
Officials say that if the outbreak spreads it would be the seventh major die-off of bighorns in western Montana since 2009.
What: Learn the basics and how to tie six flies in two nights.
When: 6 p.m. -9 p.m., Oct. 10-11.
Where: Silver Bow Fly Shop. 13210 E Indiana Ave.
Instructor: Angela Morgan.
Cost: $75; pre-register, space limited.
Contact: Silver Bow Fly Shop, 924-9998.
MOUNTAIN ROADS — The North Cascades Highway from Winthrop, Wash., west to Marblemount is a great scenic attraction that keeps getting better, according to this Seattle Times story.
Now's a great time to gander at LIberty Bell Mountain.
TRAILS — Join local nordic skiers to clear brush from Mount Spokane cross-country ski trails in work parties set for Oct. 2 and Oct. 15, starting at 9 a.m. at Selkirk Lodge.
Wear appropriate clothing; bring a lunch and water.
Details: Art Bookstrom, 368-3119 days, 624-9667 evenings.
SHELLFISHING — Fewer razor clams will be available for harvest this season on the Washington Coast beaches, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department pre-season surveys.
The decline, said state coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres, is due to the natural cycle of razor clam populations.
“We’ll have a little less digging this season,” Ayres said. “But we’ll probably save as much as we can for spring dates. People like that, the conditions are better and the clams are bigger.”
Information about current razor-clam stocks, marine toxins and digging options is available on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s shellfishing website.
HUNTING — Years ago, before Jim Ebel had retired as manager of the Colville Fish Hatchery, I wrote a story about his unnerving encounter with a cougar.
He was putting up a tree stand before the archery deer season when a cougar came in below the tree and waited for an easy meal to come down. Ebel was unarmed.
Eventually the cat left the immediate area, so Ebel crawled down and began hiking a mile to his pickup, but the cougar immediately showed up again and stalked him from beihind and from the side, slipping in and out of sight at close range.
That experience — something most hunters will never experience in their lifetimes — was enough to convince Ebel to carry a weapon in the woods.
But last year's hunting season seemed to move Ebel's status from hunter to "bait."
Read on for the rest of the story:
RAIL TRAILS – The popular Route of the Hiawatha Trail rail trail near Lookout Pass is scheduled to close for the season on Sunday, (Oct. 2).
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — It's worth emphasizing that an Idaho archer was able to end a grizzly attack on his bowhunting partner on Saturday by using pepper spray, an essential that should be on the pack straps of every hunters in grizzly country.
The elk hunter who apparently stumbled across a bear’s resting spot and was hospitalized after the animal bit him and broke his right arm, officials said.
Richard Paini, 40, suffered puncture wounds and an injured left hand along with the broken forearm in the attack at about 9 a.m. He was taken to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
A hospital spokesman said Paini, of Island Park, was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon.
The bear involved in the attack fled after Paini’s archery hunting partner, John Stiehl of Island Park, used bear spray to scare off the bear. Stiehl told authorities he believed it was a grizzly bear.
Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Fish and Game bear specialist, said hunters are at more risk of surprising bears because they are understandably being stealthy when they're in the woods.
ENDANGERED– Washington’s pending Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be the focus of another special state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Oct. 6 in Olympia.
The discussion will center on the interaction of wolves with livestock and ungulates. Public comment will be accepted.
The special session will be followed by an Oct. 7-8 meeting, when the commission will receive briefings on issues including the status of north coast steelhead stocks and population goals for deer, elk and other ungulates.
The special meeting is the second of three scheduled on the recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The first was held in Ellensburg. The third special meeting is set for Nov. 3 in Olympia.
The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.
Click here to see agendas for the commission meetings.
Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.
UPLAND BIRD HUNTING — Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.
Indeed, the hatch isn't anything to crow about, but it's not as bad as hunters may have feared, at least in the Snake River region.
Surveys by Idaho Fish and Game biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year's hatch was pitiful.
Idaho partridge populations of both are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.
Read on for details in a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:
HUNTING — The time a nonresident takes to plan a Montana hunting trip is worth more than the high cost of the out-of-state tag.
Read on for some steps and resources to consider.`
STEELHEAD FISHING — Fishing for hatchery steelhead opens Wednesday (Sept. 28) on the upper Columbia River above Rock Island Dam, and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan rivers, the , the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.
Salmon fishing will also reopen Wednesday from Wells Dam to Brewster, and the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.
The steelhead fisheries will remain open until further notice, while the salmon fishery will run through Oct. 15.
Read on for details.
CONSERVATION — “Wild Night For Wilderness" – a community celebration of the great outdoors, is being organized into an evening of music, slides and updates on the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, at Evans Brother’s Coffee in Sandpoint.
The evening also includes a taste of local libations — featuring locally brewed beer by Laughing Dog and locally crafted wine by Pend d’Oreille Winery — plus free appetizers, door prizes and music by Baregrass, a popular local dance band.
Info: (208) 265-9565.
ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will kill two wolves from the Imnaha wolf pack, including the collared alpha male, after they were blamed for a livestock kill in Eastern Oregon.
The department tracked an adult male wolf with a GPS collar to the location of a calf that was killed last week, according to the Associated Press.
Killing the adult male and a second, uncollared wolf will leave two wolves in the pack. Other wolves from the pack have dispersed to new areas.
The wildlife-advocate group Oregon Wild has protested the proposed kills, saying they are a “major blow” to Oregon’s wolf recovery program.
The Imnaha pack has been blamed for 14 livestock kills since mid-2010.
Wolves in the area were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act in May, when the department killed two other wolves.
The overall number of wolves in the state has fallen from 21 to 12. The number is expected to climb.
CLIMBING — Some of the year's top climbing short-films are coming to Spokane in a film tour — REEL ROCK VI.
The show is a screaming deal — it's free! But you must think ahead or get left out.
The films will be shown starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division.
"The show is free but space is limited to about 150, so attendees need to stop into the store and pick up their FREE ticket in advance," said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear events coordinator.
Among the films are epic cold shots of mountaineering Gasherbrum II, big-wall ascents at Yosemite, ice climbs and the skill of an inspiring elementary school-age rock prodigy.
Read on for the film list and details.