Springer Bite Yo-Yo’s on the Columbia River

Andy with an early spring Chinook from the Columbia River

Andy "The Mad Russian" with a 15 pound spring Chinook he caught with Bill Swann Saturday on the Columbia River

The spring Chinook bite has yo-yo'd quite a bit this past week on the Columbia River, with boats popping two to three fish one day and then finding the river nearly barren the next. With such mild weather here this past month it's hard to imagine that's it's the last day of February and not late March and we're actually talking about king salmon already. With this many fish in the river right now the springer bite ought to really be rockin' in a couple of weeks. Knock on wood!

Bill Swann from Swanny's Guided Fishing (360-446-5177) has been heating up the tires of his Chinook-wagon at Davis Bar, Frenchman's Bar, and Caterpillar Island downstream from Multnomah Channel on the Big C. "The water's been so low that none of the snags have washed off the bars and there's gear-eating sticks poking up everywhere out of the sand. Today we couldn't drag the bottom as much as I normally like to do and we had to change to hitting the dropper lead every five feet, or so, to keep from losing even more gear," said Swann after donating three full trolling setups on Davis and Frenchman Bars. Bill and the other anglers that are on the river scouting now will have a distinct advantage when the run hits full stride between now and early April.

The only fish that hit the deck of Swanny's boat on Saturday, one of the recent "off" days, slammed a cut plug herring behind a medium Fish Flash. The herring mojo on this particular day was an Advanced Brine with a bottle of blue Pautzke Nectar added to the brine to spice things up. "I'm not sure whether it's the small amount of sulfites in the Nectar or the egg smell that gets'em going, but it just seems like every year I find myself using more and more of this stuff because the springers eat it up," added Bill.

He's been running a medium Fish Flash because of the relatively clear water this year and feels like a larger flasher might put the fish off the bite. Early water temperatures are dancing around 45 degrees, which along with 5 foot of visibility is setting up anglers with primo conditions as the spring Chinook season gets under way.

We'll be following Bill Swann and several other Columbia River guides here on The Outdoor Line website and on Saturday mornings on The Outdoor Line radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle throughout the highly touted spring Chinook run on the Columbia River.     

Local Salmon Forecast “By the Numbers”!!!

As mentioned in a previous blog post,  I await the salmon forecast numbers like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

Hello, my name is Tom and I am a "salmon sicko".

After  watching the numbers for a number of years (never mind how many…) I've found that you can "call some shots" by digging into the forecast numbers.

The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council)  chinook and coho abundance estimates take some pouring through to find the real "meat" but don't worry, I've done all the leg work for you right here.

2010 Preseason adult Chinook salmon stock forecasts in thousands of fish
Stock                                  2009                                    2010 
Willapa fall                           34.8                                   31.1
Hoh fall                                 2.6                                    3.3
Nooksack/Sam                    23.0                                   30.3
Skagit summer                    23.4                                   13.0
Stillaguamish                        1.7                                    1.4
Snohomish Wild                    8.4                                     9.9
Snohomish Hatch                  4.9                                     5.6
Tulalip Bay                           4.0                                    3.4
S Puget Wild                         17.2                                   12.7
S. Puget Hatch                      93.0                                   97.4
Hood Canal Wild                    2.5                                   2.4
Hood Canal Hatch                  40.1                                  42.6
Key Stock totals            255,600                                  253,100 

From the above numbers, We can take a guess that chinook seasons will be similar to last year with the following exceptions:

The Skagit summer chinook season will be lost for the 2010 season. San Juan chinook should be as good or better than 2009. Snohomish chinook will be up 17% hopefully resulting in similar Skykomish seasons to last year. Just bring a five-gallon bucket of water to the crick with you… It's might be a dry summer with this poor excuse of a snow pack we've got.

The Silver Story!
2010 Preseason adult coho salmon stock forecasts in thousands of fish.
Stock                                            2009                                  2010
Straits Wild                                      20.5                                8.5
Straits Hatch                                     7.0                                7.8
Nook/Sam W                                      7.0                                9.6
Nook/Sam  H                                    25.5                               36.0
Skagit Wild                                      33.4                               95.9
Skagit Hatch                                    11.7                                9.5
Stilly Wild                                        13.4                               25.9
Stilly hatch                                       0.0                                5.4
Snohomish W                                   67.0                              99.4
Snohomish H                                    53.6                              24.5
S Sound W                                      53.6                              25.3
S Sound H                                     188.8                             186.4
Hood Wild                                       48.6                               33.2
Hood Hatch                                     52.0                               51.2
Puget Sound Total                     338.6                                320.8


The obvious bright spots in the coho numbers are the Skagit and Snohomish wild fish.  Last year the pinks played "defense" for the coho, as it was difficult to get anything past the "humpy hordes"

This season the local coho will not have such luck and we will hopefully have the opportunity to take advantage of a solid if not stellar coho season.

Keep in mind that these numbers are but the "raw material" that the co-managers will use to craft our local seasons and only by attending the North of Falcon meetings can you have an impact on the process.

We will keep you posted here but I sincerely look forward to meeting some of you….at the meetings!!!

The Weekend Warrior

By Ray Gombiski. Over the last ten years I was fortunate to have employers that allowed me to pick and choose my days off. Having the ability to fish only prime conditions with less pressure made for many excellent fishing trips. I was able to drive to Alaska, fish Cabo, and chase Steelhead throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Throughout these many trips and experiences I took for granted that I could take off and fish whenever the fishing was on fire. It was a great run, a run I hope to duplicate between now and the time I hang up my boots. Ray Gombiski with a Columbia River spring Chinook

Recently I took a job that requires me to be at work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. My new job is great and I work with great people and enjoy what I am doing. When I took the job I had no clue that my fishing world would be turned upside down. With a Monday through Friday job I was forced to change the way I go about fishing. I now have to plan trips far in advance and be a little more creative with how I go about making every trip count. In this blog I hope to share my weekend experiences and how they come to fruition. I will cover preparation, knowledge, and tips for making you a better "Weekend Warrior".

As I write this we are in the last week of February in the Northwest. There are still many Steelhead trips ahead of me as the season is two months from being over, so why would I be planning my entire year of fishing? RUN TIMING!

Run timing is possibly the greatest weapon the Weekend Warrior has. Fish runs are predictable, be it for Salmon or Sailfish, fish migrate and create peak numbers at specific times of the year in specific locations. I try to plan most of my trips around the peak of the run. Peak run timing is not something that we, as fisherman, should have a hard time finding. I have found that gathering data via the internet is one of the easiest ways to find peak run timing, pair that with the seasons set by your local department of fisheries and you should be able to fish during the best part of the run.

Let’s use the example of Spring Chinook: Spring Chinook salmon are fairly consistent with their timing. When planning my springer trips I usually depend on the seasons set by the managing agencies of the Columbia River. I know the season is set to allow us to fish during the upswing of the peak of the run and I've learned this through the dam counts provided at the Bonneville dam. I use the historic data from the Fish Passage Center on the Columbia River and compare it with the seasons that have been set to determine when the best time for the trip will be.

Dam counts and seasons are usually a good starting point for my Springer trips. I then refer to the archives of fishing reports that the public posts on the internet or in print. These reports usually will have detailed information about water color, temperature, weather and sometimes even barometric pressure.  

This is a report I pulled from an April 12, 2007 Seattle Times article:

"We're seeing catch rates from half a fish to almost a fish per boat average, and that includes fish kept or released," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "Catches have ramped up from Vancouver down to Cathlamet, and water conditions are pretty darn good right now."

This simple quote tells me that April 12th is a good starting point for me to plan my trip.

Lastly I recommend that you keep a log of which days and times of year have been good for you. My log always consists of location, date, water visibility, temp., barometer, and success. If you are fishing an area where you know you have caught fish in the past you will fish with more confidence and more confidence equals more fish.

I encourage feedback and questions, feel free to email me at rgombiski@hotmail.com

Hours of research helped put Ray into this trophy king salmon on Alaska's Kenai River in 2009.

Local Lakes With Great Winter Action

With most of the local rivers shut down to steelheading, blackmouth being spotty at best, how do I get my fishing fix this weekend if I want to stay local?  Simple, head to Lakes Washington or Sammamish to get in on some of the great cutthroat fishing that's been going on. Both of these lakes offer some of the hottest winter action that often gets overlooked this time of year. Make no mistake either, these fish aren't your little 14 inch rainbows that half the state will be chasing later this spring, these are meaty fish that can tip the scales at up to 8lbs. These fish are great fighters as well, often leaving the water and exciting everyone on the boat.

My son Mason with a nice cutthroat caught just south of Mercer Island.

Although there are quite a few techniques to use when targeting these fish, trolling a firecracker sized herring or a wedding ring tipped with nightcrawler seems to work the best. Some guys, such as Todd Daniels with Tall Tails Guide Service, use their own twist when fishing these techniques. For more on that watch this short video on rigging a wedding ring spinner with a night crawler. I have also had some success trolling a jointed Rapala or nightcrawler using a Mustad Slow Death Hook.

For your rod and reel setup think kokanee. No Nelly, I'm not talking about the beer. I like to use an 8 foot Fetha Styx Fresh Water Series lite action rod rated for 4-10 lb line. If you haven't fished Fetha Styx new line of rods that are hitting the market now then get your hands on one. If you have, then you already know about the quality of their new blends and no doubt you also know that they put their money where their mouth is with their line of True Hero and CCA rods. For each one they sell, money goes directly to benefit police, firefighers, or CCA.

If you are fishing Lake Washington, location is key as this is one big lake. I like to target the south end of the lake near the mouth of the Cedar River. The trolling pattern most guys use here is a circular pattern from the southern tip of Mercer Island to the mouth of the Cedar river and then back around by Coulon Park. Many times I will see guys zig-zagging the entire area as well.

Other great spots to target are the floating bridges. If you are going to fish the bridges just remember that fishing is not allowed within 100 yds of the bridges. You probably wouldn't want to be too close anyway because you can get caught up on some of the cables that run from the bridge. Don't ask me how I know this but I did needed to go buy a new downrigger ball after one trip fishing the south end of the I-90 bridge. 

Here are the best trolling lanes along the 520 bridge on Lake Washington. 

No matter what you use in your troll pattern, there are two things to remember. Number one is to troll slow, I like to troll as fast as I can while still keeping my downrigger cable straight up and down.  Number two is get your line anywhere from 50-100 yards back. These fish can be very boat shy at times and it is neccessary to get your gear way back. 

My business partner, Paul Dent, with a fish caught off the mouth of the Cedar.

Just remember, the Northwest offers us great opportunity no matter what time of the year it is. Get out and enjoy it, just as some of Todd Daniels clients did recently on Lake Sammamish. Check out some recent TROUT FISHING VIDEO from Todd's boat.

Summer Can’t Come Soon Enough

By Nick Barr. 2010 looks to be one heck of a year. The new year for me is filled of promises, obligations, and new adventures. My name is Nick Barr, I am 18 years old and a tournament bass angler/bass fishing guide here in the Pacific Northwest. Bass fishing is my passion, my lifestyle, and last but not least my career choice. I fish all around the Pacific NW with “Northwest Bass” and the “The Bass Federation” Qualifiers. This year I will also be fishing some FLW Series tournaments in Nevada and California, as a co-angler. My website is NickBarrFishing.com

I look forward to a great year, as my life is moving quickly with opportunities and challenges ahead of me. I will be attending Eastern Washington University in the fall, and hopefully starting up a college bass fishing team in the process. I also just started up my own bass fishing guide service this year and am looking to grow that as I move into college. Currently, I am waiting on my new Legend Alpha 199 bass boat with a 225 Mercury Optimax that is being built in Arkansas right now.

As tournament season approaches, I am getting cabin fever looking at the great weather outside; knowing I should be fishing. This senior year in high school has been great, although even busier than I thought it would ever be. But I just remember that I do all these things in the off-season so I can sit back, relax, and fish tournaments all throughout the spring and summer. Right now my garage is slowly turning into tournament central, organizing all my storage boxes with my Gamakatsu hooks, Luhr-Jensen crankbaits, along with pairing up Lamiglas rods with reels. The only relief I get from cabin fever is organizing, but it only partially works, as I lay in bed at night thinking of all the bass to be caught. I am not kidding you, in the mind of a bass angler, there are some serious things going on. When I pass by a lake, I seriously cannot stop thinking about it. I shake at the thought of heading over to Potholes Reservoir for the first tournament of the year. This winter has been way too long for me and I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of fishing season. I look forward to what 2010 entails, and I will be sharing with you my experiences through the Outdoor Line blog and my website.

If you are interested in getting out on the water for a day of bass fishing, or just want to learn how to fish for bass hands-on, check out Nick Barr’s Bass Fishing Guide Service. Feel free to email me at NickTBarr@hotmail.com, call at (360) 485-9462, or visit my website: NickBarrFishing.com 

“Dekes” Attract Walleye at Potholes

I'll keep this short and sweet folks. There's a net pen full of walleye decoys right next to the fishing pier at Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir in Eastern Washington. Big walleye come to the pen everyKellee Brown with a pair of keeper walleye she caught on Potholes Reservoir night to make googly-eyes at the pen full of decoys, which are actually bonker-sized rainbows, in hopes that they can get their toothy lips around one of the tastey morsels. Moooohaha!

The Tractor Beam! When the net pens were constructed next to Mar Don Resort a few years back they had no idea just how well they would work to attract one of the Potholes top predators, the walleye. Or maybe they did, in which case we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

When I spoke to Levi Meseberg of Mar Don Resort back in January anglers had been busy catching walleye to well over ten pounds sitting in their lawn chairs on the resort pier casting rainbow pattern swim jigs around the net pens. I spoke with him again today and the pattern was much the same. The decoys seem to be working just fine.

"Some anglers over the weekend had several fish from 25 to 27 inches using the rainbow swim jigs off the resort pier at night. 27 inches put's that fish right around 7 1/2 pounds and we've been seeing fish somewhere around that range just about every night," says Meseberg.

Levi also reported limits of walleye coming out of the main part of the reservoir on the sand dune points near Crab Creek. "Some friends banged out limits of walleye over the weekend casting 1/2 ounce silver blade baits onto the sand flats in 25 to 30 feet of water in the Potholes. I also poked around a little and found some nice largemouth bass over the weekend, which is super early for the lake. The water temperature is at 44 degrees right now and I'd expect to see some walleye starting to move towards Crab Creek and Lind Coulee if this warm weather continues," explained Levi.

Walleye fishing has been excellent on the lake since ice-off and things will really heat up when the fish move into the creeks for pre-spawn sometime in March. When water temperatures get into the high-40's, generally sometime in mide to late March, it's go time for walleye. That could happen early this year, however, with the El Nino weather we've been experiencing here in Washington.

The next two months will generally provide the best walleye fishing of the year on Potholes Reservoir.

Anglers can retain 8 walleye per day over 12 inches on the lake and one walleye over 22 inches. Mar Don Resort charges $5 a night to fish off the resort pier (decoys included) or anglers can purchase a yearly pass for $100. Guests of the resort fish off the pier for free. For more information about fishing Potholes Reservoir contact Mar Don Resort at 800-416-2736 or log onto www.mardonresort.com.  

Bruce Feagon with a fat walleye he nailed off the fishing pier at Mar Don. 

Bruce Feagon with a fat walleye he nailed off the pier at Mar Don Resort

Fresh Oysters, a Northwest Winter Treat

"You need to eat a couple of these honey…I've already eaten five of them," Nicole says several minutes after I gave her the green light to hit the bbq full of oysters we had just prepared on this sunny February afternoon. Sunny February afternoons are an oximoron here in Washington and we were definintely enjoying every last second of it with fresh oysters and Henry Weinhards on our back porch in Gig Harbor.

Growing up here in the Northwest, and particularly an Endsley, means that you eat plenty of oysters. We eat them raw, on an open campfire, in our omelettes, on sandwiches, baked, smoked, pan-fried, and in this case right off the barbecue. I'm pretty sure my uncle, who has a cabin near Seabeck on the Hood Canal, "is" a filter-feeding oyster and I can still remember my first "you-will-eat-your-oysters-or-you-don't-leave-the-table" show down with my grandfather at the dinner table at age 6. Grandpa was Popeye–I was 6–I ate the oysters!  

Of the four oyster species that grow here in Washington only one of them is native to this area, the Olympia. If the Olympia wasn't so darned small (it's tiny) perhaps it could have defended itself from the Pacific, European, and Kumamoto oysters that have done very well here in the Pacific Northwest. You'll see the European's marketed as Wescott Bay oysters in restaurants and the Pacific is hard to miss in the Hood Canal, where it's thrived for over a century.

Since it's unlawful to remove oyster shells from the beach here in Washington the first thing you'll need to master is the art of shucking. Most tackle stores will carry oyster shucking knives and you can even find them in many of the hardware and grocery stores here in Western Washington.  

A set of gloves or a towel is mandatory for shucking oysters. The shells have razor-sharp edges and the knife, as dull as it may seem, will easily puncture your hand if you don't wear gloves. Any leather work glove works great and welders gloves work excellent.

The point of the knife is placed at the rear of the oyster where the hinge is located. The hinge and a small muscle inside the oyster are what holds the shell together. Push the point of the knife into the hinge until it's seated solidly and then push and twist slightly to pop the hinge open, being careful not to drive the knife down into the oystery goodness contained in the shell.

Next run the edge of the oyster knife along the upper shell to cut the top of the muscle that holds the shell together.

Once the upper shell is removed run the oyster knife edge along the lower part of the shell to cut the bottom portion of the muscle, seen in this photo on the left side of the oyster.

Once the oyster is free from the shell place it in a Tupperware container or Zip Vac bag and leave the shell on the beach. As I mentioned above, it's unlawful to remove oyster shells from the beach here in Washington, as the shells contain the oyster seedlings needed to re-seed the beaches.

A much easier way to access the goodness contained within the oyster shell is to cook them on the barbecue until they pop open. Whole fresh oysters can be purchased at Pike Place Market or any of the number of shellfish farms located here for between $7 and $10 a dozen. You'll still have to do some minor shucking, but once they're popped open this process is much easier.

An oyster that's "popped" and is ready to have it's upper shell removed.

Papa Endsley worked up this to-die-for recipe for cooking oysters on the barbecue quite a few years ago and it's been a big hit ever since. After placing a small amount of Tillamook butter in the now-opened oyster shell sprinkle on some Carolina seasoning, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. Olive oil also works great in lieu of the butter for a more healthy version of this treat and Johnny's seasoning is also a good'n for this one!

The lower half of the Pacific oysters shell is the perfect baking dish!

The oysters don't make it far from the grill…feed'n time at the Endsley household. Grab a fork and dig in!

Fresh oysters are available at Pike Place Market in Seattle and just about any other fresh seafood market carries them here in Washington. Or, if you want to hit the beach and try shucking some yourself check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations pamphlet for more information on limits, tides, and health advisories. 

The Mark of a Man

By Jeff Lund.

There are certain watermarks in a male’s life that, once reached, can make him feel more like a man; events that validate existence, prove actual worth.

In my Alaskan elementary school, students had to pass the Kindergarten salmon test in order to be admitted to first grade. The little pupils had to catch their limit in salmon using only a No. 2 Ticonderoga pencil sharpened with a hatchet. During high school, guys shopped for their prom-wear with .270-caliber rifles, providing enough material for their dates to sew their own deer-skin dresses and cook a delicious prom-night meal.

After a Super Bowl filled with ads about the wuss-ification of man I have been reassured that I do not fit into that category not only because of my grade school curriculum which would be sure to bring a buffet of lawsuits if adopted outside the comfort and seclusion of the Last Frontier, but because of what I received in the mail. 

It wasn’t a loan application for a ranch made of light beer cans, or request to spear Betty White during a pick up football game. No, this was better. This means something beyond the fame of a 30-second sponsorship.

My past year has been rewarded with the epitome of man – a hard-bound sporting goods catalog.

Yep, I spent enough money last year to qualify me for the 1347-page hard-bound Cabelas book instead of the ordinary catalog. Its got fold out chapter markers which eliminates having to flip through annoying pages to find where I left off next time I am reading it on the..ahem..throne.

Its got everything, including accessories for the kitchen sink. If my barn was not already filled with relics from my upbringing because I am too poor to buy normal aesthetically pleasing nick-knacks, I would consider a massive overhaul in celebration of Cabela’s recognizing, and rewarding me with this epic outdoor volume.

I wondered if premium deals came with this acceptance into the Elite Cabela’s Shoppers Fraternity. I do 100 percent of my shopping online, so I figured if Cabela’s liked me enough to send me a book, I’d find exactly what was so special about it.

On page 834 there is a Broken Silence Turkey Alarm Clock for $39.99, I went to Cabelas.com and was instantly confused. The price online was $44.99, but was on sale for $29.99. So, the book was better by five bucks, until the online sale.

I turned to 863 to see if what was going on with the Rainbow in My Room Projector that allows children to ‘experience the beauty of a rainbow no matter what the weather is doing’. Only $27.99, might get it for my classroom for all of those depressing California spring days when its 75-degrees and sunny.

Anyway, the price was the same, thus diluting the idea that this book was worth more than the diary in Indiana Jones’ last crusade (which ended up being his second to last crusade). I also remembered that all I bought from Cabela’s was a set of waterproof camo gear, a shirt and a bow which I returned once I realized how much gas money I would need to make it to Alaska.

The previous year I did buy travel gun case for my rifles, but still, that’s not a whole lot.

So much for thinking shopping for stuff makes me cool because there have to be plenty of people that get the hard-bound edition.

And no, I haven’t killed salmon with writing utensils or made clothing from deer.

Jeff Lund is an outdoor columnist for the Manteca Bulletin in Manteca, California. This column originally appeared in the February 10th edition.

Columbia River Spring Chinook Seasons Set

OLYMPIA – Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today adopted fishing seasons for this year’s spring chinook fishery on the Columbia River, where the prized salmon are projected to return in the largest numbers since at least 1938.
 
Encouraged by a forecast of 559,900 returning fish, both states approved regulations that will provide Columbia River anglers with a full range of fishing opportunities above and below Bonneville Dam in March and April.

Last year, 222,000 spring chinook returned to the river.  
 
But after watching spring chinook runs fall short of expectations for the past two years, fishery managers exercised caution in setting fishing seasons below the dam.  In calculating the number of fish available for harvest, they set aside a 40 percent "buffer" until the forecast can be verified by data collected once the run is under way.  
 
If the forecast proves accurate, both recreational and commercial fisheries will get additional time on the lower river, said Guy Norman, southwest regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

"This approach gives us the flexibility to match fishing opportunities to the actual size of the run," Norman said.  "As we’ve seen in the past two years, it can create real problems when runs fall short of expectations."  

Norman said the 40 percent buffer on the estimated run size is designed to ensure that enough spring chinook pass upstream to meet obligations to tribal and non-tribal fisheries upriver from Bonneville Dam.  It will also help to keep incidental impacts on wild chinook listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act within allowable limits, he said.

As in previous years, only hatchery-reared fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.  All wild spring chinook, identifiable by an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed.  
Norman said an update to the run forecast will likely be completed in early May, or when about half the fish have passed Bonneville Dam.  
 
Until then, the recreational fishing seasons for spring chinook salmon established for March and April are:

-Buoy 10 upstream to the I-5 Bridge: Seven days per week from March 1 through April 18, except closed on the following Tuesdays: March 9, 16, 23 and 30.  

-I-5 Bridge upstream to I-205 Bridge: Seven days per week from March 1-14, except closed on Tuesday March 9. Beginning March 18 through April 3, fishing will be limited to three days per week, Thursday through Saturday.

-I-205 Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam: Bank angling only, seven days per week from March 1-14, except closed on Tuesday March 9. Beginning March 18 through April 3, fishing will be limited to three days per week, Thursday through Saturday.

-Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam: Seven days per week from March 16 through May 31. Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Tower Island power lines, six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam will be allowed to retain one adult spring chinook salmon per day, while those fishing above the dam can retain two per day.
Although spring chinook salmon do not begin to enter the Columbia River in large numbers until mid-March, some catches have already been reported.  Until March 1, the fishery is open under regulations described in the 2009-10 Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

As outlined in the rule pamphlet, anglers may retain shad and hatchery steelhead when fishing is open for spring chinook salmon.  

Rockfish Recovery Doesn’t Have to Take a Lifetime

Dr. Mike Rust of NOAA fisheries will be doing a presentation on culture of rockfish as a means of enhancement at 2pm Feb. 24 at the WDFW office in Mill Creek.  This will be an hour long presentation and will occur just before the Rockfish Advisory Board meets.  The public is welcome at both the presentatiion and the meeting so please make plans to attend.

As many of you know, Bear Holmes and I have been part of an effort to recover rockfish in Puget Sound.  Since many of these rockfish species are long lived and slow to grow it may take up to 95 years to recover some of these species.  As someone that enjoys bottomfishing, I don't want to wait 95 years before we can re-establish sustainable fisheries for all rockfish species.  While there are many reasons for the decline and just as many management proposals for recovery, I believe that the proposal that Bear and I have will be the fastest way to sustainable recovery. 

Make no mistake, there is not a single fix for the problems that are out there.  However, building artificial reefs and using the advances in hatchery supplementation of these fishes would be the most effective.  Many people question these recommendations for one reason or another.  What we would like to do is answer these questions once and for all.  Will artificial habitat enhance the populations for rockfish and act as nursuries for the young?  I believe they will but let's prove it once and for all.  Can an artificial habitat be as effective or maybe even more effective than natural habitat?  I would love to have the opportunity to prove that one as well.  Can hatchery supplementation speed recovery of species like rockfish?  I believe so, let's find out.  Can we use hatchery supplementation without repeating problems of the past?  There is only one way to find out.

Throught the world, places like Florida, Korea, Japan and many others have been using artificial reefs as effective tools in fisheries management.  It's time for the State of Washington to catch-up.