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Steelheading/ Spey casting clinics for fly fishers

FLY FISHING — Oregon fishing guide and fly-fishing innovator Tom Larimer will present a free steelhead fly fishing tactics clinic starting at 6  p.m. on April 8 at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley. (Please notify the shop if you will attend so they can plan accordingly, (509) 924-9998.)

The following two days, Larimer will conduct four-hour Spey casting clinics as follows. (Space limited).

Intro to Spey Casting with (509) 924-9998
When:  April 9th  8 a.m-noon
Where:  Spokane River. Location TBD
Cost:  $50 
*Must prepay/register prior to course. Rods/reels will be provided if you don't have your own.

Advanced Spey Casting/Technique with Tom Larimer
When:  April 9th 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Where:  Spokane River. Location TBD
Cost:  $50
*Must prepay/register prior to course.

Prep for new Valley Walmart evicts urban ospreys

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A hawk-eyed reader recently noticed that the poles that had supported urban osprey nests not far from the Valley Costco store were missing — and so were the osprey.

She contacted me, and I contacted the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.  Habitat biologist Karin Divens provided this update:

“The site is going to be developed with a Walmart store and the platforms had to be relocated,” Divens said last week.  “I contacted the City of Spokane Valley this morning and they had the developer’s consultant contact me.

“It sounds like they did their best to follow our recommendations for these replacement nesting platforms, including specs on preferred designs.  

“District wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson and I had identified three alternative locations for new poles with nesting platforms.  Unfortunately, the consultant was unable to get approval  from neighboring property owners to place permanent platforms. 

“Instead, new poles and platforms were put up on the Walmart property as far away from the highest activity areas as possible.

“The new poles and platforms were put up prior to removal of the old ones.   So now we wait and see if the birds choose to nest here when they return.  After 12 years of documented nesting, there has been no osprey nesting documented at this location for the past 2 years. ”

A Canada goose apparently nested on one of the platforms last year.

Yakima River fly fishing report

FLY FISHING — Here's the weekly Yakima River Fishing Report from Jim Gallagher of Troutwater Fly Shops in Cle Elum and Ellensburg:
 
The skwala stones continued to be the most dominate insect on the Yakima River this past week.  We have also seen blue wing olives hatch in the early afternoon.  
 
Most success has been subsurface using a dropper system with a size eight or ten brown and beige color skwala nymph and either a small mayfly nymph or a San Juan worm dropper. 
 
In the afternoon, when the temperatures warm, there have seen adult skwalas on the water surface creating the possibility for some dry fly action.  The adults tend to be more active on the Yakima in the Ellensburg area. 
 
Overall, fishing and catching has been good throughout the river system, despite non-optimal water clarity.  The water flows are great for floating and a little high for wading.  The water clarity is off color starting below the Teanaway River and continueing into the lower canyon. 
 
It seems as if every little tributary through the Kittitas Valley is full with snow melt water.  We expect the dry fly fishing to be great over the next few weeks as the temperatues warm.

Odds were good for winning 2011 Washington moose raffle tag

HUNTING Relatively speaking, the odds were excellent for drawing Washington's coveted 2011 moose raffle tag.

Lloyd Hoppner of Colville won the coveted tag to hunt a prolonged season anywhere moose hunting is allowed in Eastern Washington in the drawing held last weekend at the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show.

His ticket was drawn from a pool of only 1,000 tickets, down from a pool of 3,000 tickets last year, Wanda Clifford, executive director of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, said Friday.

The council does the work of running the raffle to raise money for wildlife conservation projects while 10 percent of the proceeds go to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department for moose management.

The special permit is a good deal, especially since some hunters have put-in fruitlessly for 20 years without drawing permit in the general state lottery drawing.

One has to wonder why more hunters didn't buy the $10 raffle tickets.  The economy?  Maybe they just don't understand the program.

Savvy big-game hunters know they can boost odds by entering the raffles as well as the normal state lottery in which they get one chance among about 31,400 applicants vying for one of 138 tags.

Of the 3,000 moose raffle tickets sold last year, Clifford estimated they were sold to fewer than 300 hunters.

She didn't have figures for how many hunter bought the 1,000 tickets this year, but it's clear the odds were good for those who did.

Residents and nonresidents are eligible to buy tickets, and the hunting license and tag is awarded to the raffle winner at no extra charge. That makes the tag a real deal for a nonresident.

The “once-in-a- lifetime” restriction is waived.

If selected, any legal weapon may be used.

Deer dogged in Stevens County

WILDLIFE — Stevens county elected officials are constantly belittling state and federal wildlife managers for their lack of effort in controlling the wildlife devastation caused by wolves and coyotes, however valid that might be.

But when it comes to taking care of the canines under their jurisdiction, Stevens County and other counties in northeastern Washington appear to be pretty lame.

Reports of loose-running dogs harassing wildlife have fairly regularly come in to state Fish and Wildlife police this winter.

Last week, an officer responded to a Suncrest homeowner who reported a pack of dogs she didn't recognize had cornered and attacked a deer near her residence. The officer found the deer just as dead as if a wolf pack had been there. 

The only difference is that the dogs didn't eat the deer because they can go home and recharge on a nice bowl full of dog chow.

Snowmobilers desecrate backcountry skiers’ favorite slopes near Mullan

WINTER SPORTS — A clash has been brewing for years near Lookout Pass as snowmobilers' insatiable appetite for high-marking and tracking fresh snow continues to invade more and more areas used by backcountry skiers.

Thirty years ago, snowmobilers tended to stay north of I-90 while skiers found peace and quiet to the south in the St. Regis Basin, around Stevens Peak and other areas.

Snowmobilers pretty much drove skiers out of the St. Regis Basin by the late 1990s — their high-marking and potential to set off avalanches often made it dangerous to be a skier below.

A backcountry skier can make only a few runs up and down a mountain slope in a day.  A snowmobiler can foul an entire basin with tracks and noise in a few hours.

This winter, snowmobilers seem to be making a point to go in an trash some sacred ground for backcountry skiing in the West Willow Peak area south of Mullan. 

Backcountry skiers, who seem to shun organization, are starting to react.   Check out the Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition website, and the update on what skiers encountered last weekend.

Youths invited to join whitewater trips and other adventures

YOUTH OUTDOORSPeak 7 Adventures, a faith-based youth outdoor adventure group with a focus on underprivileged kids is already launching raft groups on the Spokane River, taking advantage of the spring whitewater.

The group schedules challenging events throughout spring  and summer, including climbing, kayaking, backpacking and team-building skill activities.

Youths and adults interested in participating or mentoring are invited to a rafting season open house with free pizza and a low-key used outdoor apparel sale on Wednesday, 6 p.m., at the new Peak 7 headquarters, 1409 W. White Rd.

Info: (509) 467-5550.

Deer with bucket on face has disappeared

WILDLIFE — Washington Fish and Wildlife officers responded to a Newman Lake residence today after reading my blog item about a deer with a Halloween bucket stuck on its face.

The whitetail and her two fawns had come into the family's barnyard three nights in a row, so they know she had gone at least that many days unable to feed.

Unfortunately, the deer has not showed up for two days.

Wildlife officers said they received no calls about the deer in distress.

“This is the type of thing we would respond to,” said officer Dave Spurbeck, who talked to the residents this morning.

“They have all of our phone numbers now in case the deer shows up again.”

BLM advisory council meets in CdA

PUBLIC LANDS — The Resource Advisory Council (RAC) for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Coeur d’Alene District will meet in Coeur d’Alene Tuesday at the District Office, 3815 Schreiber Way.

In addition to the RAC's regular business items, the agenda includes election of officers, briefing from field offices on various programs, and an update on the Forest Service recreation program.

The meeting, which is open to the public, starts at 8 a.m. The public may address the RAC from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Info: Lisa Wagner, RAC coordinator,  (208) 769-5014.

Idaho Senate votes to relax elk disease test rule

 BIG GAME — The Idaho Senate has passed legislation to relax domestic elk testing requirements for a deadly brain disease that has plagued herds in other states, the Associated Press just reported.

All domestic elk in Idaho must be tested annually for chronic wasting disease.

But elk ranchers who sell meat and charge hunters to shoot trophy bulls have convinced lawmakers to ease the requirements. The Senate passed legislation today to allow virtually all Idaho elk ranchers to test just 20 percent of their animals once every three years.

The bill goes to the House.

Some sportsmen are against the measure, raising longstanding fears of disease spreading from domestic elk to Idaho’s prized wild elk herds.

But supporters — including an elk rancher on the Senate committee that gave this bill an OK — contend testing has never detected disease in Idaho’s domestic herds and the standards can be safely relaxed.

Another busy week for Wildlife cops

WILDLIFE COPS — In addition to clamping down on people who disregard wildlife habitat (see previous post) Washington Fish and Wildlife police kept busy last week with a wide range of duties, not the least of which was conducting a hot-spot elk hunt to curb crop damage near Almota, making presentations to hunter education classes and checking anglers throughout the region.

Once officer responded to monitor elk in Spokane Valley and the wild turkeys still plaguing some homeownes on the South Hill.

At least two citations were writen to snowmobilers during a northeastern Washington patrol of the Calispel peak area focusing on Big Game Winter Range closure areas. The officers also joined with Forest Service cops to rescue and transport  three ill-equipped snowmobilers who'd broke down a long way from the road.

When these officers write their book about the crazy cases they check out, they'll have to include last week's call from a person in southeastern Washington who believed a neighbor had placed a toxic black substance in the roadway in an attempt to poison him. 

The officer checked it out, since it could have been a habitat protection violation. 

Turns out the “black substance” was put down by a man who works at a construction company. It was sandblasting sand he'd placed in the roadway to prevent a washout until a permanent fix could be made.

Sandblasting sand is not toxic.  

Sign up for outdoor photography seminar

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY – An internationally known professional photographer and lecturer from Issaquah will conduct the annual Photographic Society of America Spring Seminar in Spokane, April 2-3, hosted by local camera clubs.

Darrell Gulin will be at Spokane Community College Lair Building focusing on a wide range of subjects, including travel, macro, action, HDR and landscape photography plus a session on editing.

Cost: $85, includes lunches.

Optional field trips are set for April 4, led by PSA members.

Click here for details and to pre-register: 

Cutting tree for bridge over Tucannon River is costly mistake

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT – If a tree falls in the forest and a Fish and Wildlife policeman is around, it will be heard – and investigated.

While patrolling the Tucannon Lakes and Wooten Wildlife Area in the Blue Mountains last week, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officer stopped to check the vehicles of two people he’d seen previously hunting shed antlers.

 Meantime, he heard a chainsaw running down along the Tucannon River, according to the weekly report of enforcement activity in far Eastern Washington.  Moments later a large tree was heard to hit the ground.

The officer hiked into the area, found the two shed hunters and determined that one of them had sawed down a 50-foot tall live cottonwood tree measuring 30 inches at the stump.

The man had dropped the tree into the river to make a bridge for his partner to cross.

Aside from being stupid, senseless and selfish, this also is illegal.

The Tucannon River is a habitat protection area to protect, among other things, the trees and vegetation that shield the river from sun to keep the water cooler for young bull trout and steelhead.

The officer gave the information to the Columbia County prosecutor, where we’re looking forward to seeing a case move through the courts on charges felony malicious mischief and an HPA violation.

Anglers have plenty of elbow room at Hog Canyon

FISHING — As I was hiking the rim above Hog Canyon Lake on Sunday, I looked down on the water to see two fishermen looking very small as they trolled their lures in the chop. 

A few anglers were fishing with little success from shore at both ends of the lake, but these two men were in the only boat on the 53-acre lake.

Minutes later I saw them hook and land a trout that played hard and looked big in the net even from my distant vantage.

The winter-season lake closes to fishing at the end of the month.

Great weekend for waterfalls

HIKING — Reports from paddling friends say Hangman Creek had dropped too low for good canoeing over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Palouse River was flowing too big for safe paddling.

Time to put on the hiking shoes and just stand in awe of the sight at Palouse Falls State Park.

Dayhike destination: Waterfall ripping at Hog Canyon Lake

HIKING — Looking for a good early-spring dayhike?  Check out this spot i visited with my daughter this weekend.

Runoff period is a good time to visit the BLM land around Fishtrap Lake for a hike into Hog Canyon Lake.  .

Hog Canyon is a popular winter fishing lake off I-90 from the Fishtrap exit. There are several ways to reach it, including a longer walk from the main trailhead parking area on Fishtrap Road between the Sprague Highway and Fishtrap Resort.

First timers might want to use the BLM Fishtrap map to find your way to the Hog Canyon boat launch. Hike the west shoreline, scramble up to the rim and follow the rim up lake to the falls, with the lake below you to the right. Beautiful.

Butter cups blooming. Grass widows and balsamroot soon to follow.

Veterinarian offers free dog first-aid class

OUTDOOR CANINES – Hikers, hunters or anyone who takes a dog along for the adventure can benefit from a free program on preparing and caring for dogs in the outdoors Thursday, 7 p.m., at Spokane’s REI store.

Veterinarian Greg Benoit of SouthCare Animal Hospital will offer insights for taking care of a dog from its paws to its ears.

The class is free, but participants must pre-register to reserve a seat.

Big Horn Show: Takes more than a day to see

OUTDOORS — You can't just cruise through the sprawling Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, which ends this afternoon at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.  The best part of the show is in the details.

It's a place to talk and learn from knowledgeable people packed in one place, including experts on river rafting, all sorts of fishing and hunting and other discoveries.

For instance, representatives of the Montana-based HuntingGPSmas.com showed map software that can be loaded into computers or GPS units that shows game management units and the names of private property owners as you move the cursor over the map.

Among all the trophy mounts scattered around the show is the world record Roosevelt elk, which David Morris of Northwest Big Game rescued from a family's outbuilding to show the world.

Morris, who publishes the Record Book for Washington, also is displaying the Washington state record non-typical whitetail buck, which was taken in Pend Oreille County in 1931 by George Gretener of Newport, Wash. The buck's antlers score 236 5/8 Boone and Crockett points even though Gretener sawed off a 9-inch long tine that pointed toward the animal's back so it wouldn't hit the wall when hanging by the original antler-only mount.

Last chance: Moose tag raffle today at Big Horn Show

HUNTING — The Washington 2011 raffle moose tag will be drawn Sunday afternoon at the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show that's underway at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

The more $10 raffle tickets you buy, the better the odds for drawing a coveted chance to hunt with an either-sex tag anywhere moose hunting is allowed in far-Eastern Washington.

The state is letting the Spokane-based Inland Northwest Wildlife Council handle the ticket sales in person or by phone or mail. A small percentage of the sales are used for wildlife conservation projects in this region; the rest goes to the state for moose management.

Here are a few details that sweeten the deal:

  • Residents and nonresidents are eligible to buy tickets, and the hunting license and tag is awarded to the raffle winner at no extra charge.
  • The “once-in-a- lifetime” restriction for a moose tag is waived.
  • If selected, any legal weapon may be used.
      

The moose raffle tag drawing is set for Sunday at the Big Horn Show, along with raffle drawings for a fine selection of firearms.
  

Gun powder needed for hunter education

HUNTING — Hunters education classes can use any gun powder that might be sitting unneeded in shops or basements of the region's hunters and reloaders.

“We do a powder burning demonstration for our classes to demonstrate the different burn rates for rifle, shotgun, pistol and black powder,” said Paul Weekley, one of the certified instructors for the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

The powders keep forever, so if people have some they're not using, these classes are a worthy cause.

Bring it to the Big Horn Show, which closes today at 5 p.m. at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

Or contact the council office, (509) 487-8552.
  

Hunter ed classes filling at Big Horn Show

HUNTING — This year's hunter education classes offered by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council were filling fast at the sign-up table at the Big Horn Outdoor Recreation Show on Saturday.

Classes in May were full by Saturday morning and April probably filled before the day was over.  

But there was still plenty of room to fill in classes set for other months. 

The show ends this afternoon.

  

Bannick presents ‘Birds of the Northwest’ at The Bing

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Paul Bannick, wildlife photographer and author of The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America's Most Iconic Birds, is coming to The Bing Tuesday for a program that begins at 7 p.m.

The last time Bannick was in Spokane, his program was booked at the Magic Lantern Theatre, which wasn't nearly large enough for the crowd, much of which was turned away.

The Bing will be an excellent venue.

Bannick's multimedia presentation will feature images, stories and recorded calls derived from thousands of hours in the field, highlighting the Columbia Highlands of northeastern Washington. Afterword, he will sign books.

Bannick, a birding specialist, draws connections between owls, woodpeckers and the plants and animals that live with them.  He says the show will include dozens of new images.

The show is sponsored by Conservation Northwest, with support from Friends of Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, Inland Northwest Land Trust, Palouse Audubon, Spokane Audubon, The Lands Council, and Upper Columbia River Group-Sierra Club

 A $5 donation  will be requested at the door. 

Info: 747-1663; www.conservationnw.org/birds

Newman Lake deer starving with plasic container stuck on face

WILDLIFE — A leftover trick from Halloween is no treat for a whitetail deer near Newman Lake, where it's been lured by human food sources to the danger of human garbage. 

The deer has a kids' Halloween bucket stuck on its face and the strap dropped behind its head, locking it on so it can't eat.

“These deer come every night to our house here in Newman Lake to hit up on our bird feeder and then go out to the horse pasture to pick up any hay then to on the creek on our property, said Diana Sellers.

Calls to vets and Fish and Wildlife officers have not generated any help, Sellers said, even though they know the deer has been entrapped for at least two days and is “trying desperately to eat.”

“ My kids are begging me to find someone to help,” she said.

Grizzly bears will dance for salmon

WILDLIFE WATCHING — We've all seen photos or video of grizzly bears feeding on river salmon.  But have you even seen a griz harvest a salmon with it's hind feet?

Check out this short video from the BBC.

Landowner workshop deals with weeds, pests

HABITAT — Pend Oreille County property owners can learn to manage pests and noxious weeds and sign up for neighborhood cost-share assistance in a free March 26 workshop offered by WSU Pend Oreille County Extension and the Weed Board.

The event runs 8 a.m.-noon at Camas Center for Community Wellness, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd. in Usk.

Pre-register: (509) 447-2402 or email jrice@cahnrs.wsu.edu.

Read on for details.

Tipster helps bag Blue Mountains bull elk poacher

POACHING — Jason Locke, 37, of Kennewick has pleaded guilty to poaching a bull elk and using his wife's special hunting license illegally, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department reports.

Locke was fined a total of $11,345, including a $6,000 criminal wildlife assessment penalty for taking a trophy-size bull elk.

Two other men – David E. Myles, 50, of Richland, and Brian E. Badgwell, 40, of Pomeroy were charged for helping transport the illegal game.

Locke is also facing poaching charges in Chelan County, and allegations that he guided Columbia River steelhead trips without a commercial license.

Washington Fish and Wildlife police were able to make the case thanks to tips from a concerned citizen. 

Read on for more details on this case.

Kokanee limits temporarily removed below Dworshak

FISHING — Kokanee limits were lifted starting Saturday BELOW Dworshak Dam to give anglers a chance to harvest fish that are otherwise being sucked into the dam.

NOTE: My previous post erred by suggesting the limits were lifted in the reservoir. That's not so:  The order targets only the spillage of kokanee through the dam.

With many dead and dying kokanee been flushed through Dworshak Dam, the bag and possession limits will be removed for kokanee in the North Fork Clearwater River and Clearwater River downstream of the North Fork in Clearwater County  March 12-May 15, Idaho Fish and Game announced this afternoon. 

While anglers can take home as many kokanee as they can carry, the fish may only be taken by rod and reel, dip net or by hand.  AnIdaho fishing license is required. 

Kokanee, which are a popular target of anglers fishing at Dworshak Reservoir, tend to congregate near the dam during winter. When mountain snowpacks are abundant and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumps water to make room from spring runoff, the fish are susceptible to being washed downstream.  

At this point, the number of kokanee being flushed is not expected to have a large influence on next year’s fishery, IFG biologists say.

Settlement reached on wolf recovery in Idaho, Montana

 ENDANGERED SPECIES — Conservation groups reached a legal settlement today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that paves the way for gray wolves once again to be removed from endangered species protections in Idaho and Montana.

The settlement was filed for approval with a U.S. Federal District Court in Montana. If approved by the court, the agreement would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana and return management authority — and the option for controlled hunting —  to those states, while retaining full protection in Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Utah.

The settlement also will require the Department of the Interior to withdraw a controversial policy memo used to justify not protecting imperiled species throughout their entire range.

Click here to read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release announcing the settlement.

Following is from a joint statement issued by the 10 conservation groups:

“We hope today’s agreement will mark the beginning of a new era of wolf conservation in the Northern Rockies, as well as confirm the success of the Endangered Species Act and this country’s boldest wildlife reintroduction effort in history. The proposed settlement maintains protections in Oregon and Washington where wolves have not yet fully recovered, while allowing for responsible state management in Idaho and Montana.

“In return for allowing the states of Montana and Idaho to manage wolves according to approved conservation plans, the Department of the Interior agrees to conduct rigorous scientific monitoring of wolf populations across the region and an independent scientific review by an expert advisory board after three years. This is a critical safety net to ensure a sustainable wolf population in the region over the long run. The settlement offers a workable solution to the increasingly polarized debate over wolves.


The 10 conservation groups that have agreed to the settlement are Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Wild, Sierra Club and Wildlands Network.

Revival of wolf hunting would help fund wolf management

HUNTING — My numbers were off in a previous post about the revenue the government loses by not being able to employ controlled hunting for managing wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Idaho took in $470,000 during the 2009-2010 wolf hunting season while Montana took in $325,935.

Court action prevented the planned 2010-2011 season before it started.  Meantime, the government spent $4.6 million on wolf management last year.

Read on for the breakdown of the numbers verified by Idaho Fish and Game.

Big Horn Show schedule of hunting-fishing seminars

OUTDOORS — Here's the list of seminars by local sportsmen scheduled during the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show underway at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center through Sunday. 

TODAY

1 p.m. — Fly casting, by Jerry hunt.

2 p.m. — Outdoor gear, by Doug Saint-Denis

3 p.m. — Salmon fishing, by Dave Murphy.

4 p.m. — Steelheading, by Mike Henze.

5 p.m. — Lake Pend Oreille rainbows and kokanee, by Ross Milliken.

6 p.m. — Blade baits for walleye, by Bob Ploof.

7 p.m. — Bass fishing, by Nick Barr.

SATURDAY

11 a.m. — Lake Pend Oreille fishing, by James Mullen.

noon — Upper Columbia kings and sockeye, by Shane Magnuson.

1 p.m. — Jigging techniques for walleye, by Bob Ploof.

2 p.m. — Salmon fishing, by Dave Murphy.

3 p.m. — Steelheading, by Mike Henze.

4 p.m. — Fly casting, by Jerry hunt.

5 p.m. — Lake Roosevelt rainbows and kokanee, by Ray Bailey.

6 p.m. — Bass fishing, by Nick Barr.

SUNDAY

Noon — Outdoor gear, by Doug Saint-Denis

1 p.m. — Fly casting, by Jerry hunt.

2 p.m. — Spinners for walleye, by Bob Ploof

3 p.m. — Lake Roosevelt rainbows and kokanee, by Ray Bailey