Early coastal razor clam summer assessments show a drop in abundance especially at Long Beach

Razor clam diggers last spring look for razor clam “shows” at Moclips Beach.

Coastal razor clam lovers will likely see a decline in clam populations for 2017-18 digging season.

State Fish and Wildlife biologists are in process of finalizing summer razor clam population assessments at Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. The exception is Twin Harbors that will undergo abundance surveys this coming week.

“Razor clam populations are down for most part on every beach, but in some cases it’s not too bad particularly at Mocrocks and Copalis,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager. “It looks like more of an average year after we’ve been riding on this great big band wagon for a while now.”

“Our real puzzle is Long Beach adult razor clam population, which is down considerably,” Ayres said. “We didn’t do a lot of harvesting (last season) and also had a bonus (25) clam daily limit. I would’ve guessed that there should’ve been a lot more clams there due to that.”

A batch of razor clams await to be cleaned after a successful outing at Copalis Beach last winter.

Ayres and his survey crews plan to go back soon to Long Beach, which covers a broad stretch of beach-line from Columbia River mouth north to Leadbetter Point.

“We’ll look at a couple spots at Long Beach again, but won’t do assessments on whole beach,” Ayres said. “We’ll probably never know for sure what happened to the clams although we suspect the southern part of (Long Beach) was affected by freshwater run-off. When salinity levels are lower and young clams don’t like that. This is my best guess, but still doesn’t account for the central and northern beaches.”

Long Beach was supposed to be a shining star last season with oodles of razor clams, but elevated levels of marine toxins known as domoic acid — a natural marine toxin produced by certain types of marine algae that can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities — had the beach closed virtually the entire season.

“We had hoped for a big banger of a season at Long Beach,” Ayres said. “During the brief (11) days of digging we saw good digging on northern end, but not so much on central section. It was a disappointment.”

Postseason estimates showed 77,778 digger trips on April 12-16 and April 26-May 1 (187,261 during 2015-16 season and 162,558 during 2014-15 season) at Long Beach yielded 1,555,113 clams (more than 2.61 million and 2.29 million clams respectively) for an average of 20.0 clams per person (14.0 and 14.1 respectively) clams per person. State fisheries bumped up the daily limit to first 25 clams dug person regardless of size or condition.

Tegan Yuasa (left) and Taylan Yuasa (right) try their luck for razor clams last winter at Copalis Beach.

With no clam surveys taken at Twin Harbors – one of more popular digging areas spanning from Grays Harbor south jetty at Westport south to Willapa Bay’s northern shore – until next week all we can do for now is look at 2016-17 season. Twin Harbors saw pockets of time where beaches were closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid although not nearly as dire as Long Beach.

Clam digging was open from Oct. 14-19, Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 26-28. Digging didn’t reopen until Feb. 7-12, Feb. 23-28 and March 7-13, and then in spring on April 5-9, April 12-16 and April 26-30.

In all Twin Harbors during 2016-17 season saw 62,893 diggers taking home 834,086 clams for a 13.3 clam per person average. The first 15 clams was a daily limit regardless of size or condition. Twin Harbors was completely shutdown in 2015-16 due to elevated levels of marine toxins.

To the north diggers should expect fairly good digging at Copalis Beach from Grays Harbor north jetty to Copalis River had a drop in razor clam populations, and Mocrocks Beach from Copalis River to southern boundary of Quinault Indian Reservation.

Exactly how much digging time at Copalis and Mocrocks depends on upcoming discussions with tribal fishery co-managers.

At Copalis from Oct. 14 through April 30 (33 total digging days), 82,108 digger trips (69,536 in 2015-16 season and 58,626 in 2014-15) saw a harvest of 1,040,193 clams (952,020 and 780,625 respectively) for 12.7 digger average (13.7 and 13.3 respectively).

At Mocrocks from Oct. 14 through April 29, 57,958 digger trips (70,747 in 2015-16 and 58,739 in 2014-15) had 686,628 (965,623 and 818,645 respectively) and harvested for 11.8 digger average (13.6 and 13.9 respectively).

The juvenile clam estimate at Kalaloch Beach on northern coast shows more than 100-million little guys sitting under the sand, but Ayres says many are very small pre-recruit clams tha won’t reach harvestable size for a while.

Diggers search for razor clams as the sun drops over the weatern horizon off Moclips Beach.

“We may have to wait a while to try to harvest them,” Ayres said. “We have around 190,000 adult-size clams which is less than half of what we had a year ago so it may be hard to make case until later on. This is lowest number of adult clams we have seen in past 25 years at Kalaloch. If you had density levels like this you’d have to search hard to find any (adult-size) clams.”

Hopes ran high for Kalaloch last season, which had been closed since 2011-12 season, and then saw a brief dig this past season on Jan. 8-9. That dig produced a paltry 1,410 clams for 637 diggers who averaged 2.2 clams per person.

During 2016-17, 68 digging days coast-wide produced 4,117,431 clams for 281,374 diggers trips compared to 4,665,743 clams with an effort of 327,545 during 2015-16 season.

So far this summer marine toxin levels for domoic acid remained under the 20 parts-per-million cutoff. Latest tests taken showed levels at 14.0 on July 12 at Long Beach; 8.0 on July 11 at Twin Harbors; 11.0 on July 25 at Copalis; and 11.0 on July 25 at Mocrocks.

Fall and winter razor clam digs occur during evening low tides while spring-time digs occur during morning low tides.

State Fish and Wildlife plans to have the public comment review period ready by early next month, and information will be posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

“We’ll probably set some digging time during the first part of October where we have a series of good low tides, but everything is dependent on further marine toxin testing,” Ayres said.

Ichiro Nakata of Mercer Island likes what he found in the sand during a night time dig at Copalis Beach.

Word on lost Puget Sound shellfish harvest opportunities

State Fish and Wildlife is looking for public opinion on a draft developed to make up for lost shellfish opportunities on Whidbey Island due to an oil spill from a boat that caught fire in 2012.

The area being looked at is Penn Cove, which was closed for shellfish for several weeks beginning in May of 2012.

“Calculating the value of these damages is a challenging process, but we think we have good data and rational to support our plan,” Don Noviello, with state Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Team said in a news release.

If granted, the plan call for distribution of varying levels of oyster seeds at three beaches in the Penn Cove area over two seasons.

To view the plan, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/habitat/oil_spill/damage.html. Submit comments via email through Sept. 5 at PennCoveNRDA@dfw.wa.gov.

 

Coastal salmon fisheries off to decent start, coho mostly a no show; and early Lake Washington sockeye counts are soaring

Tegan Yuasa admires a nice catch of chinook salmon.

The coastal salmon fishery started off on a high note this past weekend at Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay, and many are also gearing up for the Westport opener this coming Saturday.

“What we’re seeing at Ilwaco is interestingly all chinook in the catch, and a lot of people with their one-chinook (daily) limit,” said Wendy Beeghly, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager. “People are having trouble finding coho. I heard up north they’re seeing more chinook than coho although they did have coho in the catch, plus some pinks which is pretty early.”

Beeghly said the average catch was a fish per person at La Push and Neah Bay or could even be a little higher after all the data is tallied. The average size at La Push, Neah Bay and Ilwaco was 8 to 12 pounds with some bigger ones too.

“It is not great weather conditions, but not terrible although it might get worse during the week,” Beeghly said. “Apparently we’ve got windy weather coming (northwest winds are forecasted at 15 to 25 mph Monday through Wednesday).”

Clyde McBrayer of Olympia holds a 25-plus pound king caught in the ocean off Ilwaco that was bound for the Columbia River.

A Columbia River fall chinook forecast of 582,600 resembles last year’s actual return (951,300 was forecast last year with an actual return of 643,300), and was the fourth largest on record although down significantly from record runs in 2013 to 2015.

“We’ve had some strong chinook returns in past years, and those are the bread-and-butter of our fisheries,” Beeghly said. “The Columbia chinook returns look slightly below average. I would expect coho returns to be OK and nothing on fire.”

Ocean king fisheries will be driven by a lower river hatchery chinook stock of 92,400 and Bonneville Pool hatchery chinook stock of 158,400 – better known as “tule chinook” – that are mainly caught off Ilwaco, Westport and later in summer at Buoy 10 near the Lower Columbia River mouth.

The tule are a lower river hatchery run is close to recent five-year average, and Bonneville Pool hatchery run is predicted to be the second highest return since 2004.

The all-time actual return record dating back to 1938 was 1,268,400 adult chinook in 2013, up from 227 percent of the 2003-to-2012 average of 557,600 adult fish. In 2014, the actual return was 1,159,000, which was second-highest on record.

On the table this summer is a sport chinook catch quota of 45,000 fish, which is 10,000 more fish than 2016’s quota of 35,000 chinook. A quota of 42,000 hatchery-marked coho for this summer’s sport fishery is about 23,100 more fish than last year’s quota of 18,900 coho.

Writer Mark Yuasa holds up a king salmon caught in the ocean.

The Ilwaco catch quota is 21,000 hatchery-marked coho and 13,200 chinook; Westport is 15,540 hatchery-marked coho and 21,400 chinook; La Push is 1,090 hatchery-marked coho and 2,500 chinook; and Neah Bay is 4,370 hatchery-marked coho and 7,900 chinook.

The ocean non-tribal commercial troll fisheries opened in May, and after a lull during the brief season it recently started to show signs of life.

“The troll fishery slowed way down for about three weeks, and that is not all uncommon to see, but just this past week it really started to pick back up,” said Beeghly. “It looks like a new batch of fish are coming through, and we’ve seen some bigger fish up north (off Neah Bay).”

Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay are currently open for salmon fishing, and Westport opens Saturday (July 1). Fishing will remain open daily at all four coastal ports through Sept. 4 or until quotas are caught, whichever comes first.

The daily limit at Neah Bay and La Push is two salmon of either chinook or hatchery-marked coho. The daily limit at Westport and Ilwaco is two salmon, but only one may be a chinook. The chinook minimum size limit is 24 inches and the hatchery-marked coho minimum size is 16 inches.

The entrance to the Port of Ilwaco will be one of the areas that takes center-stage this summer for thousands of salmon anglers trying their luck off the coast.

Catches weren’t great last summer with an average at Westport of 0.81 chinook per rod during the first week of August; 0.49 at Neah Bay; 0.10 at La Push; and 0.56 at Ilwaco.

Many overlook premier summer king fisheries off La Push and Neah Bay. Make plans to trek in mid-July to La Push and Neah Bay where kings and other salmon species either head into the Strait of Juan de Fuca or continue their journey south along the coast.

The trend in recent years for kings occurs along the 30-foot line just outside the surf in the ocean off Long Beach near the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. This is a relatively easy place to fish when ocean conditions allow with anglers letting out 13 to 15 pulls of line (two feet per pull) with a diver or Fish Flash and a whole or cut-plug herring.

The best time off Long Beach is August as salmon stage before moving into the Columbia River, and it doesn’t matter on the tide or time of day as long as the fish are holding. On the surf line look for huge anchovy baitfish schools.

NOTE: A lesson learned last summer was if the fish aren’t showing at Long Beach don’t waste too much time plowing an empty field. We moved south just about five miles, and payoff turned out to be money in the pocket.

A party of Westport anglers hold up their bounty of kings caught in the ocean off Grays Harbor.

As the summer progresses in late summer and early fall salmon fishing will shift to the Buoy-10 area at the mouth of the Columbia River and up and beyond the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

The Buoy-10 king salmon season is open Aug. 1 through Sept. 4 then shifts to coho only from Sept. 5-30. Look for this to blossom by the middle of August although in past years the fish have shown up right from the start.

The Desdemona Sands (a flat sandy bar which is exposed at low tides) is a place to look at during a mid- to late-flood tide as fish move along the drop-offs. Many will also work the buoy line on the Oregon side up to the bridge, which has also become a very popular area.

In the early morning on a flood tide, plan to first stop along the Wing Walls – located outside of the Port of Ilwaco – and work your way up and down the river.

Anglers are still holding out hope that a Lake Washington sockeye fishery will occur later this summer. Pictured are a group of anglers who had luck in the south-end of the lake during the last time a fishery occurred in 2006.

Nibbles and bites

Lake Washington sockeye returns are off to a really robust start, but many are under cautious optimism since this is just the early stages with the peak of the run occurring around July 4.

“It is off to a strong start, but when you look at the run two years ago they came in early and it seemed like a big run only to eventually even out at the end,” said Aaron Bosworth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “My suspicion is we’re on track for something like that, but it is still too soon to know. It could be as high as 190,000, but that could change dramatically as we move forward.”

Total so far this season is 29,760 slightly ahead of 29,159 in 2006 when the last sport fishery occurred. Pre-season forecast was 77,292.

Single-day counts were: 3,482 on June 25; 2,797 on June 24; 4,342 on June 23; 2,230 on June 22; 2,071 on June 21; 2,448 on June 20; 2,563 on June 19; 1,964 on June 18; 2,124 on June 17; 2,039 on June 16; 1,359 on June 15; 1,201 on June 14; 352 on June 13; and 728 on June 12.

Fishery workers have been collecting samples of sockeye at the Locks, and had no problem gathering their 200 fish.

“The fish are in really good condition, and there seems to be a lot of large five-year-old fish,” Bosworth said. “Last year we were supposed to see more big fish, but we didn’t, and maybe they stayed in the ocean as age four fish and are now coming back as age five fish.”

The outgoing fry migration of this summer’s adult returning fish was an above average number of both wild and hatchery produced sockeye fry.

The spawning goal is 350,000, but recently fisheries managers have agreed if the run exceeds 200,000 then they could possibly open a fishing season on the state’s second largest freshwater watershed. Keep your fingers crossed on this one!

John Martinis owner of John’s Sporting Goods in Everett and his son kneel besides a nice catch of hatchery kings.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu to Port Angeles opens for hatchery kings on Saturday (July 1) through Aug. 15, and last summer the eastern portion got off to a hot start.

“We had some spectacular days around Port Angeles when it opened last summer, and I’ll be there for the opener,” said Tony Floor, the director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.

Sekiu in the western Strait will remain open from Aug. 16-31 for a fishery that targets mainly pinks and hatchery-marked coho.

While there won’t be a bonus catch limit for pinks, anglers in the eastern Strait can keep two additional sockeye salmon in a daily limit. The problem is you’ll need to figure out how to catch them as they’ve been rather tricky to get to bite. Commercial trollers in the ocean have success using bare red hooks or small hootchie rigs has been the new “go to” way when fishing in places like Baker Lake.

The Army Corp of Engineers made a mistake (and we are all entitled to those) on the Columbia River shad count at Bonneville Dam on June 19 as a malfunction in their counting system tallied the wrong figure.

They revised the total single-day from 497,738 to 247,366. That’s still not a shabby daily count, just not the near record proportions as originally thought. That was followed by another 246,596 shad on June 20, and 148,872 on June 21. That brought the total season count to 1,310,094. The highest single-day counts were in 2003 with 506,724 on June 5 and 520,664 on June 6.

Fishing off the Washington bank just below Bonneville Dam has been excellent. Some groups of anglers last week had close to a hundred fish when sampled.  Fish are reported to be good sized.  A popular fishing location, Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal, is closed and will be opened in the future after repairs are made.

The elusive geoduck like this being held by Taylan Yuasa can be found on many beaches of Puget Sound and Hood Canal especially during extreme low tides during summer.

The most extreme low tides of the summer are happening right now, and that means Puget Sound shellfish seekers targeting the elusive deep-dwelling geoduck should find excellent opportunities as well as for a variety of other clams and oysters.

Low tide: Monday, minus-3.0 feet at 1:05 p.m.; and Tuesday, -2.2 at 1:53 p.m. Next series of low tides are July 7, -1.0 at 9:10 p.m.; July 8, -1.3 at 11:07 a.m.; July 9, -1.4 at 11:42 a.m.; July 10, -1.5 at 12:17 p.m.; and July 11, -1.3 at 12:54 p.m. Those will be followed by even more lower tides on July 20, -1.5 at 8:48 a.m.; July 21, -2.4 at 9:39 a.m.; July 22, -2.8 at 10:27 a.m.; July 23, -3.0 at 11:15 a.m.; July 24, -2.7 at 12:01 p.m.; -2.1 at 12:47 p.m.; and July 25, -1.1 at 1:32 p.m.

Diggers should note that all eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are also closed for shellfish due to unsafe pollution levels. Before heading to a beach, call the marine biotoxin hotline at 800-562-5632 or visit the website at www.doh.wa.gov. Also check the state fisheries hotline at 866-880-5431 and website at http://wdfw.wa.gov. State Fish and Wildlife offers a good interactive shellfish map at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/beachreg.

 

 

Puget Sound Dungeness crab remain bountiful this summer, but will see a decline south of Seattle

Writer Mark Yuasa and Tony Floor hold up some nice Dungeness crab caught in southern Puget Sound.

By Mark Yuasa

The Puget Sound Dungeness crab fisheries have been riding on a high note the past few years, and while nothing should skip a beat this summer there could be a dip in success in portions of Puget Sound mainly south of Seattle.

“In general summer crabbing should be good when it opens, but abundance will be down in (Marine Catch) Area 13 (southern Puget Sound), and parts of 11 (south-central Puget Sound), 10 (central Puget Sound), and 8-1 and 8-2 (east side of Whidbey Island),” said Don Velasquez, a state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound regional shellfish biologist.

Those looking to get a jump start can begin setting pots this Friday (June 16) at Neah Bay east of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line (Area 4), Sekiu (Area 5) and south-central Puget Sound (Area 11), while Hood Canal (Area 12) and south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff (a portion of Area 9) opens June 24. The vast majority of others marine waterways will open July 1, except two areas of the San Juan Islands that will open later in the summer to protect molting crab.

“This cooler spring has shifted when crab are molting, and could have affected numbers during our test fisheries,” Velasquez said. “Looking at what we’ve seen so far taking place compared to the past few years, the Dungeness crab population is down in some areas. We haven’t gotten any information on crab abundance from Strait of Juan de Fuca or Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) yet.”

Velasquez pointed out that red rock populations are plentiful everywhere, and they seem healthy especially around the Puget Sound region south of Seattle.

In all, the state harvest Puget Sound-wide (includes Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca) in 2016 for Dungeness crab was 5,295,000 pounds for sport and non-tribal fishermen, and of that the sport catch total was 2,381,000 pounds. Tribal fishermen caught 5.350,000 pounds. The total catch between all three parties was 10,645,000 pounds.


This comes on the heels of an all-time record catch in 2015 when state and tribal Puget Sound Dungeness crab fisheries landed 11.8 million pounds, exceeding the previous 2014 record by 1.2 million pounds.

In 2013, recreational crabbers pulled in 2,103,589 pounds (2,315,833 caught by non-tribal fishermen), and 4,726,024 pounds caught by tribal fishermen for a total of 9,145,446 pounds. In 2012, it was 2,575,863 (2,601,945) and 5,164,423 for a total of 10,342,231. In 2011, it was 1,854,956 (2,574,496) and 4,323,974 for a total of 8,753,426.

In 2016, the sport Puget Sound crab endorsement was 223,443 down from 232,621 in 2015.

“During the odd-numbered years license endorsement sale seems to be higher due to pink salmon run, and I assume it will go up this year,” Velasquez said.  “Crab endorsement license sales are relatively stable.”

The summer — mid-June through September — sport fishery continues to have the highest participation level with 88.7 percent of the yearly sport catch, according to state Fish and Wildlife catch data.


Crab fishing dates announced

In all areas of Puget Sound, crabbing will be open Thursdays through Mondays of each week (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Areas opening first from June 16 through Sept. 4 are south-central Puget Sound (Area 11); and Neah Bay east of Tatoosh-Bonilla line (Area 4) and Sekiu and Pillar Point (Area 5) in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca.

That will be followed by Hood Canal (Area 12) and south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff (a portion of Area 9) opening from June 24 through Sept. 4.

The eastern Juan de Fuca Strait (Area 6); east side of Whidbey Island (Areas 8-1 and 8-2); northern Puget Sound (Area 9); central Puget Sound (Area 10); and southern Puget Sound (Area 13) all open from July 1 through Sept. 4.

The San Juan Islands/Bellingham (Area 7 South) opens July 15 through Sept. 30, and San Juan Islands Gulf of Georgia (Area 7 North) is open Aug. 17 through Sept. 30.

Pots may not set or pulled from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Crabbers must write down their catch on record cards immediately after retaining Dungeness crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five male Dungeness crab in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishermen may also keep six red rock crab of either sex daily, and each must measure at least 5 inches. For more information, visit the state fisheries website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.

Photo courtesy of Chef Taichi Kitamura owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura in Seattle.

Dungeness Crab Chawanmushi “Steamed Egg Custard” Recipe

Chef Taichi Kitamura owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura in Seattle loves fishing and the outdoors, and is well known for his victory in Beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network.

Tamura’s use of sustainable seafood on the menu at his restaurant located along Eastlake Avenue in Seattle sets him apart from many other Japanese restaurant establishments.

Kitamura was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, and opened his first restaurant Chiso in 2001.

Ingredients

Three large eggs

Two cups of seafood or chicken stock “dashi”

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Two teaspoons of soy sauce

One teaspoon of sake

One teaspoon of mirin (sweet cooking sake)

Five ounces of cooked Dungeness crab meat

One ounce of sliced shiitake or matsutake mushroom

One ounce of blanched spinach

Writer Mark Yuasa holds up a nice Dungeness crab caught in southern Puget Sound.

Procedure

In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, stock, salt, soy sauce sake and mirin together. Strain the egg mixture through a sieve.

Chef Taichi Kitamura’s chawanmushi “egg custard” is a tasty side dish to any meal.

Place the crab, mushroom and spinach into small heat resistant cups or ramekins, then pour the egg mixture over them to fill 3/4 of the cups. Cover with aluminum foil individually.

Place the cups in a steamer with water already boiling and steam 10 to 15 minutes.

Check to see if it’s done by using a bamboo skewer. When the clear broth comes out when poked with the skewer, carefully remove them from the steamer.

QUICK BITES

SKYKOMISH RIVER: The water level is up a little up, but has a nice light green tint of color, great visibility and it’s in great shape. According to the WDFW escapement report they’ve collected 609 summer steelhead through June 1 and four more through Thursday at Reiter Ponds, and total egg take to date is 357,000. The Wallace Hatchery also collected 1,029 summer steelhead through June 1 and 38 more summer-runs through Thursday. On Sky from the Wallace River mouth to the confluence a fair number of hatchery chinook were lurking with verified catches of kings weighing 20 and 27 pounds. Those are some nice beefy fish. Reports also indicate 245 summer chinook have arrived in the Wallace Hatchery through this past Thursday.

HOOD CANAL: The spot shrimp fishery reopens from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14 with a daily limit of 80 spot shrimp.

EDMONDS FISHING PIER: The only salmon show in Area 9. Word has it that seven or eight kings were caught this past week and most were in the 10 to 15 pound range. It is a one chinook daily limit, and they can be wild or hatchery. Most are casting and retrieving 1 ½ to 2 ½ ounce jigs like Point Wilson Darts, Dungeness Stingers or a Crippled Herring in green-pearl or pearl, and white or black and silver. Remember only single barbless hooks are allowed so take those treble hooks off.

TULALIP BUBBLE FISHERY: Average of one chinook for every 8 eight boats of late with most hatchery kings running 9 to 13 pounds with a few in the high teens up to 20 pounds. Open Fridays through noon Mondays only each week and there a closure on June 17 for a tribal ceremonial fishery. These are Wallace River stocked chinook, and are a better quality, earlier timed returning fish. Plus they’re better biting fish.

COASTAL SALMON PREVIEW: The ocean salmon season begins on June 24 at Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay and on July 1 at Westport. Early word was the non-tribal commercial troll fishery got off to a rocking start last month, but has petered out since then. Wendy Beeghly the state fisheries coastal salmon manager says of late it really slowed down, and the best spot for trollers is still off Westport. She said this isn’t anything to worry about from the sport fishing perspective, and it is not unusual for it to slow down, and truly not indicative of things to come this summer. One caveat to this is the inside fishery up in Canada had already met their chinook catch quota, and they are still fishing on the outside in the ocean areas.

KOKANEE BITE: Lake Stevens has been a buzz kill this season, and numbers of kokes just aren’t there like in past years. Many believe the treatment work to rid the lake of milfoil and algae could have taken a toll of the aquatic life – krill that kokes feed on – and it’s just not as rich with nutrients. If Stevens is your game, I’d go elsewhere, and a good alternative and where fishing has been productive is Lake Samish and we’ve seen some fairly good reports also coming out of Lake Cavanaugh.

LOWER COLUMBIA SHAD: Dam fish counts at Bonneville ramped up the past few days for shad. They totaled a whopping 38,253 on Wednesday and then climbed to 42,917 on Thursday for a season total of 161,562. That means it’s now time to head south. Word has it that the fishing is quite good in the fast rips and high water flows below Bonneville. The shad are stacking up really thick below the dam. Beads are your best way to catch them, but others will toss flies on a size 4 hook, shad darts, wobbling spoons and small silver finished spinners.

COLUMBIA SALMON: The mid- and upper-Columbia River from McNary Dam to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco; Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco to I-182 Bridge at Richland near Columbia Point; and from the I-182 Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam will be open June 16-30 for hatchery chinook, sockeye and steelhead fishing. The daily limits are different for each three areas so check regulations on the WDFW website.

COLUMBIA STEELHEAD: A downer is the poor forecasted summer-run steelhead return of 130,700 – which is the lowest since 1980 – and has prompted state fisheries to further restrict fishing seasons. The projection is especially weak for wild steelhead returning to the Snake River and Upper Columbia above Priest Rapids Dam. Much of this can be blamed on the drought-like conditions these fish faced in 2015 as well as warm water from the Blob in the Pacific Ocean through 2016. From June 16 through Oct. 31, the daily catch limit is one hatchery-marked steelhead and a night closure on Lower Columbia from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco; Cowlitz below the Lexington Drive/Sparks Road bridge; Lewis from the confluence with the East Fork Lewis River; Wind below Shipherd Falls; Drano Lake; and White Salmon below the county road bridge. In August, all steelhead must be released in those five tributaries and on Columbia from Buoy 10 to The Dalles Dam. Drano Lake will also be closed to steelhead retention from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30. The Columbia will be closed for steelhead fishing from The Dalles Dam to John Day Dam in September; John Day Dam to McNary Dam during September and October; and McNary Dam to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco in October and November. Salmon and steelhead fishing is closed through July 31 from Columbia mouth to the Megler-Astoria Bridge.

Mark Yuasa

Outdoor Line Blogger

710 ESPN Seattle

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Sol Duc Picking Up for Springers
Bill Myer from Anglers Guide Service in Forks says he’s been hooking a few nice spring Chinook on the Sol Duc river every day and the fishing appears to be picking up. Myer said most of his springers have been in the 8 to 14 pound range, but he’s heard of quite a few spring Chinook over 20 pounds already. He’s been backtrolling cured eggs and cut plug herring to get his bites on the Sol Duc. The Sol Duc springer fishery will continue to produce fish well into the month of June.

Trout Fishing Still Great Despite High Flows on Upper Columbia
Jack Mitchell from the Evening Hatch Guide Service checked in from Black Bear Lodge on the upper Columbia River to say that the trout fishing has remained great despite really high flows the past couple of weeks. The upper Columbia has swelled from 85,000 cfs to over 175,000 cfs recently from snow melt in the upper part of the basin. Mitchell says the fishing has remained great right thru the uptick in flows. He said they’re catching trout over 20 inches on a daily basis on anything from carpenter ant patterns to caddis, baetis, mayflies, and pmd’s. Mitchell says the great fishing will continue thru the month of June when the Green Drake hatch takes off.

Hein Bank Comes to Life on Second Halibut Opener
Kevin John from Holiday Sports in Burlington reported excellent halibut fishing on Hein Bank on the second halibut opener on Thursday of this past week. Kevin and the gang from Holiday Sports had their limit of halibut between 25 and 45 pounds before noon on Thursday. They caught their fish on the south end of Hein Bank in 120 to 180 feet of water. He said the hot baits were squid with a big glow in the dark hoochie and a large squid with a whole herring stuffed inside of it. Anglers should have decent weather on the Strait of Juan de Fuca for today’s halibut opener until the wind kicks up later this afternoon.

Last Razor Dig of the Season
Clam diggers will get one more chance to dig razor clams at Twin Harbors beach near Westport next Friday thru Sunday. Twin Harbors will be the only beach open for digging. WDFW coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres says this has been the most productive clam digging season in over 20 years on the Washington Coast. Since last October diggers have harvested more than 5 million razor clams. The coast will close after this last clam dig to allow the razor clams to spawn and provide another crop of clams for digging next fall.

Kids Fishing Event on Heart Lake
One of the hottest trout fishing lakes in the region, Heart Lake near Anacortes, will close over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend for a kids fishing event. The event takes place on June 1st and the lake is closed two days prior to allow freshly stocked trout to acclimate. Kids that otherwise might not get a chance to catch a trout get the entire lake to themselves on June 1st. The Kids Fishing event has been held for 20 years on Heart Lake and is sponsored by the City of Anacortes and the Fidalgo/San Juan chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers.

First Copper River Salmon Arrives in Seattle
Alaska Airlines pilots carried a 40 pound Copper River king salmon to waiting chefs at Sea-Tac Airport yesterday. It was the first Copper River king to arrive in Seattle and marks the beginning of the yearly craze for this great eating strain of king salmon. Copper River king salmon are prized for their high fat content and restaurants pay as much as $50 a pound to purchase them for their patrons. The Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 contained an additional 24,600 pounds of Copper River king salmon and Alaska Airlines said it would run three more Copper River salmon flights like it on Friday.

Minnesota Lakes Test Positive for Cocaine
Associated Press – Scientists just studied 50 lakes in Minnesota for water quality and found a myriad of manmade chemicals in the lakes – including cocaine, DEET, synthetic estrogen, antibiotics, and antidepressants. The bug repellent DEET was found in 76 percent of the lakes and researchers were shocked to find that 32 percent of the lakes tested positive for cocaine. Cocaine was the third most common chemical found in the lakes and scientists were surprised to find it in some very remote lakes that weren’t close to population centers. Before you head to Minnesota and start snorting lake water understand that you’ll probably drown before you catch a buzz. Scientists say the levels of cocaine in the lakes that tested positive is around several parts per trillion…hardly enough to catch a buzz.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Northwest Outdoor Report

Kokanee Bite Taking off on Lake Samish
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington says the kokanee bite on Lake Samish has been heating up the last few days. He’s talked to several anglers who have been limits of kokanee up to 17 inches on the lake. The hot rig has been a Sling Blade dodger with a Wedding Ring spinner behind it tipped with shoepeg corn and a pink Berkley maggot. Kevin says the larger fish are being caught 20 to 30 feet deep on the downrigger and the best fishing has been occurring in the middle of the lake directly in front of the boat ramp.

Bass Tourney on Lake Washington This Weekend
The American Bass Association is hosting two tournaments on Lake Washington this weekend with separate tourneys running on both Saturday and Sunday. Larry Williams from ABA expects between 20 and 30 boats to turn out for the event. With the smallmouth bass recently moving up onto their beds he expects fishing to be quite good and thinks it will take a 22 plus pound limit to take top honors in both events. Williams says the best technique for catching smallmouth bass on Lake Washington this time of year is a drop shot rigged with either a Snyper or a Yamamoto bait.

Halibut Opener Most Productive Around Port Angeles
Anglers couldn’t have asked for better weather on the halibut opener last week. Anglers got flat seas, sun burns, and there was some good fishing at least for those in the Port Angeles area. WDFW fish checkers in Port Angeles checked 141 boats with 146 halibut on the opener last Thursday. That’s an average of more than one halibut per boat. Last year the average out of Port Angeles was around .3 halibut per boat. Port Townsend and Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island kicked out a few halibut, as well, while the fishing elsewhere in the eastern Strait and the northern Puget Sound was pretty spotty for halibut. Halibut opens in Neah Bay and LaPush this weekend and anglers are once again getting excellent water to fish for halibut offshore.

Neah Bay Halibut Opener Slower Than Expected
Mike Jamboretz from Jambo’s Sportfishing said they had to fish longer than usual to get their limits of halibut on the Neah Bay opener on Thursday. Jamboretz said the ling cod were so thick on most of 72 Square that it was hard to get to the halibut. He had to move quite a bit to find areas with good halibut numbers and finally found some better fishing on Blue Dot. Most of the fish averaged around 30 pounds and their biggest fish was 45 pounds on the opener. Neah Bay and LaPush are open again today for halibut and Jambo says they’ll have “canoe weather” offshore for fishing again.

Special Hunt Permit Deadline Drawing Near
Hunters should be aware that the deadline for special hunt applications is May 22nd this year. Hunters can apply for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey in Washington thru the special hunt process. The drawing for special hunts takes place in late June.

Two Beaches Open for Clamming
Razor clam digging will be open Friday and Saturday on the Long Beach Peninsula and Twin Harbors beach will be open through Tuesday. Copalis and Mocrocks beaches are closed for the season because harvest guidelines have been met on those beaches. Low tide is at 8:12 a.m. today and digging usually starts a couple of hours before the low tide.

Florida Cops Enlist Alligator to Capture Fleeing Criminal
St Petersburg, Florida – A suspect who fled from Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies after a routine traffic stop was attacked by an alligator and later found at a local hospital being treated for puncture wounds to his face, arm, and armpit area. According to the police report the suspect, Bryan Zuniga, ran into the alligator at a nearby water treatment plant where it attacked him. He had no choice but to check himself into the hospital and of course…that’s where the police caught up to Mr. Zuniga and arrested him. If you run from the cops in Florida…you probably don’t want to wander too far off the beaten path.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

Banks Heating up for the Anacortes Derby
Anacortes Derby chairman Jay Field says the banks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca have been putting out good numbers of fish lately. Anglers have been scoring blackmouth on the banks the last couple of weeks on whole and cut plug herring. He also recommended hitting the north end of Orcas and the west side of Orcas for a chance at a bigger blackmouth. Field reported that Rosario Strait has slowed down from what it was a month ago, but there are still a few to be in there too.

7 Percent of Springer Quota Taken by Sporties on Columbia
Thru last Sunday anglers have taken just 7 percent of the anticipated spring Chinook quota on the lower Columbia River. Despite favorable conditions fishing has been quite slow on the Columbia River for spring Chinook so far this season. The quota is set at 6,100 fish and the season is set to close on April 5 with closures on March 27th and April 2nd to allow for gillnetting.

Wolf Management Costs to Rise to $2.3 Million for 2013-2014
In wolf management related testimony in Olympia this past week WDFW wildlife manager Dave Ware told legislators that the cost of managing wolves in the state of Washington will rise to approximately $2.3 million dollars in 2013 and 2014. He said the cost for last year’s work alone was $750,000, but with an increase in the states wolf population those costs are expected to rise significantly. The cost to remove the Wedge Pack in Northeastern Washington was $77,000 alone. There are 51 confirmed wolves in Washington and the total population is likely just over 100.

Razor Dig Scheduled for Easter Weekend
WDFW just announced yet another razor clam dig for the Washington coast for next weekend. Twin Harbors will be open Thursday, March 28th and Sunday March 31st, and Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, and Mocrocks beaches will all be open on March 29th and 30th. These are perhaps the best tides of the entire winter for digging razor clams with low tides between 7:57 a.m. on Thursday and 10:16 a.m. on Sunday.

Surf Perch Hitting Clam Necks at Ocean Shores
Ben Rogers at Defiance Marine in Bremerton says razor clam diggers should bring their surf perch gear along with them when they head to the coast next weekend. He and a buddy have done really well on surf perch at Ocean Shores on the last couple of razor dig weekends. Rogers likes to use a two hook rig and run a clam neck on one hook and a sandshrimp on the other hook. Rogers likes to use bigger 2/0 baitholder hooks as they tend to hook bigger perch and he’ll run a 2 ounce pyramid sinker and a perch spreader rig. He says most of the tackle shops on the coast have perch spreader rigs which are really easy to use and keep the gear from getting tangled up in the surf. Next weekend’s clam tides are in the morning giving surf fishers plenty of time to catch perch in the afternoon.

Halibut and Lingcod Seminar at Three Rivers Marine
Don’t miss the halibut and lingcod seminar on April 6th at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville featuring John Beath. John will be discussing the benefits of using UV lures and techniques for catching trophy halibut and lingcod. Three Rivers Marine will be raffling off fishing gear at the event and smoking deals on halibut and lingcod gear. Mini-clinics start at 10:00 a.m. at the store and John Beath’s seminar begins at noon. Three Rivers Marine suggest you RSVP to get a seat at this event.

Muzzleloading Pioneer Tony Knight Dies at 67
Muzzleloading rifle innovator Tony Knight of Knight Rifles passed away last Monday at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. Knight modernized the muzzleloader rifle when he introduced the in-line muzzleloader in 1985. This endeavor would eventually earn him the distinction as the “father of in-line muzzleloading.” Knight is survived by his wife, two children, and four grand children.

Man Sends WDFW $6,000 Check for Poaching
Northwest Sportsman – Washington fish and wildlife officers say they’ve never seen anything like it: A $6,000 check out of the blue from a man who needed to clear his conscience about poaching three deer out of season more than 40 years ago. Apparently the man known only as Roy contacted WDFW officials in Spokane recently to ask how much the fine would be for illegally killing three deer. Officers told him the fine had gone up from around $200 in the late 60’s to approximately $2,000 per violation now. A week, or so, later WDFW recieved a check for $6,000 from the man who apparently was trying to clear his conscious after years of guilt. WDFW officials say they’ve never seen anything like and that it’s never too late to do the right thing.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

Jerry Thomas Wins Oly Pen Salmon Derby

A record catch of 351 hatchery Chinook were weighed in at the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby last weekend setting a new record for the 40 year old derby. 820 anglers fished in the event compared to 650 last year. Mount Vernon native Jerry Thomas took first place and $10,000 with a 15.90 pound blackmouth, Lauren Selvig from Port Orchard took second with a 14.80 pound blackmouth, and Don White of Hansville took 3rd place with a 14.35 pounder. Thomas hooked the winning fish first thing in the morning on Saturday near Protection Island on an orange label herring. It’s the first time he’s fished the Olympic Peninsula Derby and he says he’ll be back next year.

Lake Roosevelt Producing Limits of Rainbows

Don Talbot at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee says the rainbow fishing is still good on Lake Roosevelt. He recommends trolling small Apex lures in either purple or bright red with anywhere from a half ounce to an ounce of lead. Talbot says the fish are cruising in the top 20 feet of the water column and anglers should set the gear as much as 200 feet back from the boat to get strikes. Talbot also recommends using a K-Fly tipped with a nightcrawler if the Apex’s aren’t working. Talbot says to launch at Spring Canyon boat launch and fish the lower six to eight of the lake just above Grand Coulee Dam.

Steelhead Showing in the Cowlitz

Derek Anderson from Screamin’ Reels Guide Service reports that a few of the “B” run steelhead are starting to show up in the Cowlitz. He said a friend of his caught three the other day and there were some fish being caught by the bank anglers at Blue Creek, as well. Anderson thinks that things will pick up the first week of March when the run typically starts to show up. The majority of the hatchery steelhead planted in the Cowlitz River now show up in the river as a late “B” run that starts in late February and goes all the way thru the end of April. These fish are big too…averaging around twelve pounds and steelhead into the upper teens aren’t uncommon.

Razor Clam Dig Scheduled for this Weekend

WDFW approved another razor clam dig for this weekend at Long Beach and Twin Harbors on the Washington coast. Today’s tide is at 5:12 p.m. and tomorrows tide is at 5:47 p.m.. Clam diggers are limited to 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Check out the WDFW website for more details.

Spring Chinook Seminar at Three Rivers Marine

Northwest salmon fishing expert Josh Hughes will be doing a spring Chinook seminar at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville on March 9th. Hughes will cover in detail where to fish on the Columbia River for springers and exactly how to rig up to catch these prized fish. Three Rivers will also be conducting mini-clinics starting at 10:00 a.m. on everything from how to rig a cut plug herring to wrapping and tuning a Kwikfish. If you’re at all interested in fishing the Columbia and its tributaries for Chinook this spring this seminar is a must. There’s bbq’d hot dogs and soda at the event and please RSVP to let them know you’re coming.

100,000 Descend on Tulsa for the Bassmaster Classic

Approximately 100,000 people are expected at both Grand Lake and in the city of Tulsa this weekend for the 43rd annual Bassmaster Classic. It’s the first time the Bassmaster Classic has ever been held in Oklahoma and the farthest west the Classic has been in more than 30 years. The angler with the best three day bass total in the Classic wins an impressive $500,000 and much, much more in endorsements. The big story at the Classic this year is the weather. There was snow on the ground for practice during the week and temperatures are supposed to drop below freezing every night.  The cold weather didn’t slow down Mike Iaconelli and Cliff Price though, who are both tied for 1st place after day one with 21 pounds, 8 ounces apiece. 4 time Classic champion Kevin VanDam is in a very close 4th place with 19 pounds 12 ounces.

Wolf Population Doubles in Washington

According to a survey just released by WDFW the number of gray wolves in Washington has nearly doubled in the past year. The survey found at least 51 wolves in 9 packs in Washington state. In 2011 there was just 27 wolves in the state. Bioligists suspect that there are two additional wolf packs in the state and think there could be as many as 100 wolves in Washington state.

Russian’s Crowned Ice Fishing Champions

From the A.P. – The Russian’s just took the gold medal in the World Ice Fishing Championships in Central Wisconsin last weekend. Eleven teams from around the world competed Saturday and Sunday on Beg Eau Pleine Reservoir near Wausau. The Finland ice fishing team took 2nd place, Lithuania took 3rd, and the the U.S. team took fourth place despite having the “home ice” advantage. Last year the ice fishing championships were held in Khazahkstan where the U.S. team took 11th place.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

February Razor Dig Scheduled
WDFW just tentatively approved a razor clam dig on the Washington coast for the weekend of February 7th thru the 12th at Twin Harbors. Long Beach will be open February 8-10 and Copalis and Mocrocks beaches will be open February 8th thru the 9th. WDFW will release a final approval for the dig after marine toxin test results come in next week.

Smaller Spring Chinook Run Forecast for the Columbia
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are projecting a run of just over 141,000 spring Chinook for the Columbia River this year. The forecast is down 25 percent from the 10 year average and well below the 203,000 spring Chinook that returned to the upper Columbia River last year. The forecast will allow anglers to catch up to 5,000 upriver springers before the run is updated in early May.

Lake Washington Kicking Out Cutties
Todd Daniels from Tall Tails Guide Service (206-437-8766) is reporting excellent fishing for cutthroat trout on Lake Washington this past week. He had a thirteen fish day on the lake earlier in the week that included a few blackmouth between 3 and 5 pounds. Daniels says that even though the blackmouth have to be released they are a blast on light trolling tackle. The most productive areas have been on the south end of Lake Washington between the Cedar River and Mercer Island and also up on the north end of the lake near Kenmore.

Wynoochee Fishing Well
Derek Anderson from Screamin’ Reels Guide Service (206-849-2574) is reporting steady action for hatchery steelhead on the Wynoochee River the past couple of weeks. Derek has been catching most of his fish backtrolling plugs and baitdivers. Anderson said his biggest hatchery steelhead so far this winter has been 17 pounds and he’s had quite a few chunky fish in the 10 to 14 pound range. He’s been getting his fish on a mix of plugs and baitdivers and Anderson thinks the size 35 Hot Shots in green and blue will really produce this next week in the low and clear water. The Wynoochee River should fish excellent all the way thru the month of March.

Dickson Eye’ing Queets and Hoh for Wild Steelhead
Longtime north sound flyfishing guide Dennis Dickson of Dickson’s Flyfishing (425-238-3537) says the dolly varden are still snapping Egg Sucking Cop Cars on the upper Skagit river, but the steelhead fishing has been poor. With the upper Skagit closing on February 15th, however, he’s gearing up to head to the coast to fish the Queets and Hoh Rivers for wild steelhead. Dickson’s top choice on the coast for flyfishing water is the Queets followed closely by the Hoh River. He suggests tying up pink or black leeches when the water is high and red or blue marabous for low and clear water. Check out Dickson’s weekly flyfishing reports at Flyfishsteelhead.com for up to date river reports!

San Juan Islands Steady for Blackmouth
Derek Floyd from Angler’s Choice Charters (425-239-5740) is reporting fairly steady action in the San Juan Islands this past week. He’s had blackmouth all the way up to 16 pounds and he says the average weight of the fish has been around 9 pounds. He’s been using smaller presentations like 3” and 3.5” Coho Killers and Kingfisher Lite in glow patterns behind a green glow flasher. Floyd says that the northern Rosario Strait has been fishing good as well as the north shore of Orcas Island on the ebb tide. Derek says there’s definitely been some bigger fish in the islands recently and he wouldn’t be surprised if a 20 plus pound blackmouth won the upcoming Roche Harbor Derby.

3 Spots Left for Roche Harbor Derby
Debbie Sandwith at Roche Harbor Resort reports that there are only 3 spots left in the Roche Harbor Derby next weekend. The derby boasts $25,000 in cash prizes and this year there’s a $30,000 jackpot for any winning fish over 30 pounds. The derby is February 7-9 and you can find more information about this great event at Rocheharbor.com.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

First Razor Dig of 2013 Scheduled

WDFW just approved the first razor clam dig of 2013, starting Tuesday (Jan. 8) at Twin Harbors and expanding to include Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis beaches later in the week. Twin Harbors will be open from January 8th thru January 14th and Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis Beaches will be open Thursday January 10th thru Saturday January 12th.
Commission to Consider Removing Gillnets from Columbia Mainstem
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet January 11th and 12th in Olympia to consider shifting gillnets off the mainstem of the lower Columbia River and into designated off-channel fishing areas. The plan would also shift allocation on many of the Columbia’s salmon runs over to the recreational sector. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 back on December 7th to adopt the plan and now it’s up to their counterparts in Washington to move the plan forward. The meeting will be held in the Columbia Room of the state Legislative Building starting at 8:30 a.m..

Brant Hunt Approved for Skagit County

A flight by wildlife biologists last week determined that brant numbers would support an 8 day hunt in Skagit County. At least 6,000 birds are needed to support a hunt and wildlife biologist Don Kraege counted 8,960 brant in Fidalgo, Padilla, and Samish Bays. The hunt is scheduled for January 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, and 27. Be sure to check out the WDFW website for more details on this special brant hunt, as there are special license requirements in place.

Wild Steelhead Showing Early in the Skagit

John Koenig of Johns Guide Service (360-708-3166) in Rockport reports catchable numbers of wild steelhead in the Skagit River right now. He’s been surprised by the number of wild fish this early in the season and thinks that the Skagit could be in store for some excellent fishing in late January and February when the wild steelhead show up in earnest. In stark contrast the hatchery steelhead return on the Skagit has been so poor that the Cascade River was recently closed down so that the Marblemount Hatchery could meet its egg take goals.

Sol Duc Fishing Well

Mike Zavadlov from Mike Z’s Guide Service (360-640-8109) in Forks has been seeing really good numbers of wild steelhead in the Sol Duc already. Mike’s caught steelhead into the low teens, as well as a few Snider Creek steelhead. One of Mike’s go-to jigs lately in the low and clear water has been a pink and purple Beau Mac 1/8th ounce jig. While the Snider Creek broodstock program was discontinued last year, anglers can still expect to catch those fish for at two more years on the Sol Duc River.

Potholes Spotty for Ducks, Good for Geese

Levi Meseberg from Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir reports great goose hunting over the Christmas break with limits or near limits of geese for the last couple of weeks. He says the cold weather that’s made the goose hunting so good has pushed a lot of the ducks south though. While there’s been a few pockets of birds around he says the duck hunting hasn’t been all that great lately. With temperatures forecast into the mid-40’s for the Potholes region next week he thinks the duck hunting could be some of the best of the season. Waterfowl season will close on January 27th this year, so duck hunters have just a few more weeks to get their hunting in.

Kent Man Attacked by Coyotes

When Faron Scarberry moved to Kent two weeks ago he had no idea how dangerous going for a walk with his dogs might be. Last Friday night while he was walking his dogs three coyotes attacked him in back yard. They initially went for Scarberry’s face and he was able to block them, but one of the coyotes grabbed him by the leg. He was able to ward off the coyotes, but he still spent the night in the emergency room and got 24 rabies shots on his leg and hip. Coyotes rarely attack humans, but wildlife officials recommend keeping garbage contained and pets inside at night this time of year to reduce the chance of an encounter.

Gun Map Backfires on New York Publisher

When the Journal News in New York recently published a story called “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood” burglars and crooks immediately took notice. Along with the story was a map of every gun owner in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Counties. While the intent of the insanely stupid article was to “out” local gun owners the article did nothing but help crooks and enrage gun owners. Burglars who needed guns now knew which homes to hit and the information also let burglars know which homes were gun-free and easy to rob. One blogger reacted by posting a map showing where key editorial staffer live. Outraged groups have called for a boycott of Gannett Publishing’s advertisers and the newspaper now has armed guards stationed outside at least one of its offices.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

Kester and McCulloch Scoring Blackmouth in Area 10

Matt McCulloch from Tyee Charters (206-799-2530) on Bainbridge Island has been hitting blackmouth all the way up to 16 pounds at Jefferson Head, Kingston, and Skiff Point. He says the south side of Jeff Head has been really good on the outgoing tide, but the seals have been a real issue there lately. McCulloch’s also been finding quite a few fish feeding on spawning herring and anchovies in as shallow as 40 to 50 feet of water around Kingston. His go-to trolling setup lately has been a glow in the dark Hot Spot with a 4 inch Irish flag Kingfisher Lite spoon. He thinks the stellar blackmouth fishing should hold up all the way thru the month of January.

Nick Kester from All Star Charters (425-327-2421) says he’s been kicking back a lot of shakers in the 21 inch range in the south end of Area 10 this past week to find his keepers. Kester has been scoring his legal blackmouth at Tyee Shoal near Eagle Harbor and he says there’s plenty of blackmouth at Jefferson Head too, but the seals have been horrible there lately. He’s been scoring most of his fish trolling either Cookie’s and Cream or Irish Cream spoons 45 inches behind a Gibb’s glow in the dark flasher.

Humptulips Cranking out Hatchery Steelhead

Joe Superfisky from Superfly’s Guide Service (360-888-7772) says the bank anglers have been outfishing the driftboaters by a longshot on the Humptulips River this past week. Superfisky says the area around Stevens Creek Hatchery has been hot for hatchery steelhead as they bomb upstream in the recent high flows. He was on the river on Friday and says he saw at least a dozen steelhead laying on the beach when he floated by with his customers. He’s been picking off a few nice fish in the boat, but his advice is to hit the bank at Steven’s Creek for your best shot at a nice Humpulips hatchery steelhead.

New Years Razor Dig Underway

Razor clammers will have this weekend and Monday to dig clams on the Washington coast. Twin Harbors, Long Beach, and Mocrocks will be open tonight. Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, and Copalis Beaches will all be open tomorrow and Monday for digging. The razor clam limit is 15 per person and the best digging usually occurs one to two hours before low tide.

Steelhead Cruising the Green

Daniel Bravo from Auburn Sports and Marine (253-833-1440) says the Green River has been kicking out a few hatchery steelhead above Flaming Geyser Park. Bravo says the word on the street is that sand shrimp, sand shrimp, or sand shrimp hs been the go-to bait on the Green lately. He says he’s heard of a few reports of wild fish in the Green already, as well. The Green received a plant of 116,000 steelhead smolts in 2011 and should provide decent steelhead fishing into January.

Chad Belding at Holiday Sports

Chad Belding of the popular and entertaining hunting show The Fowl Life on the Sportsman’s Channel will be at Holiday Sports in Burlington on December 29th from 2 to 4 p.m. to sign autographs and talk waterfowl hunting with fans of the show.

Pennsylvania Deer Hunter $50 Million Richer

From the Levittown Patch. Roger Custer of Levittown, Pennsylvania bought a Powerball lottery ticket while picking up supplies for a week long hunting trip with some friends in early December. When he returned home from his hunting trip five days later he pulled the ticket from his pocket and handed it to his wife and said, “Check this and tell me how many millions we’ve won.” After checking the numbers his wife began crying with joy. While he was away hunting Custer had hit the Powerball jackpot, winning $50 million before taxes. The Custer’s after-tax winnings amounts to just over $33 million. Custer says he plans on doing a lot more hunting and fishing in the near future.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com