Outdoors

Columbia spring king fishery underway

With 312,600 spring or early chinook expected to return to the Columbia Basin this year, personal use salmon fishers at this moment have the run of the lower river (with some exceptions) from Buoy 10 below Astoria upstream to the Washington-Oregon landward boundary above McNary Dam.

Of the overall forecast run of early kings more than 232,500 are believed to be headed for watery Washington, Idaho and Oregon destinations above Bonneville Dam.

Columbia Compact (Washington and Oregon) managers under a conservative approach have earmarked for the taking 11,500 hatchery-origin chinook for the below Bonneville fishery, another 1,200 marked kings for the Bonneville-Wallula Pool fishery and still more for the Washington Snake River fishery.

An emergency regulation posted Jan. 30, 2015 (fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/ efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1542) currently governs the lower Columbia River winter-spring sport fishery, which is managed under phased reach openings or rule implementations.

In all Columbia River waters anglers are required to use barbless hooks and besides their basic Washington fishing license every adult angler must also have a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement and a catch record card to document the salmon and steelhead.

Also until May 15, personal use anglers on the lower Columbia River are bound by an overarching rule that prohibits retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and shad on days when the river is closed to the taking of spring chinook salmon.

Otherwise, in the Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam reach anglers operate under a salmonid bag limit of six fish (hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead), with no more than two being adults (longer than minimum or jack lengths), and no more than one being an adult springer. All wild chinook and wild steelhead must be let go without removal from the water. Salmon minimum size: 12 inches. A jack chinook is defined as being from 12 to 24 inches long.

Also between Beacon Rock and Bonneville Dam it’s unlawful to fish for salmonids and shad from boats.

Buoy 10 to Bonneville reaches are set to close to salmon fishing Friday, April 10 with spot or day closures (March 24, 31 and April 7) for commercial openings.

Plying waters from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Washington-Oregon landward boundary takeoff for hatchery spring chinook, steelhead and shad began March 16 with significant limitations.

Boat borne fishers may work only waters from the Tower Island line (in the Bonneville Pool six downstream of The Dalles Dam) upstream including the lake Celilo (The Dalles Dam), Umatilla (John Day Dam) and Wallula (McNary Dam) impoundments to the Washington Oregon line.

However, dry foot fishers are allowed to plunk or spin-cast from the banks of the Bonneville Pool (upstream of the dam to the Tower Island line).

The same daily salmonid sport retention rule applies for these waters which remain open under this rule until Wednesday, May 6.

Anglers setting out from this area bent on boating or beaching a Columbia clipped springer or steelhead together with wild shad are well advised before departing to check for fishery status and updates at WDFW’s emergency regs postings available through the on-line portal at wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/regulations/.

Besides the possibility of closings there is the potential for more opportunities to fish if the 2015 Columbia early chinook run does come to pass or exceeds expectations so checking for emergency openings is advisable.

CLOSING IN ON THE SUMMIT

With the lighter snowpack and less of it sliding, state transportation department maintenance specialists out of Twisp this past week cleared 15 miles of North Cascades Highway pavement from Early Winters through Spiral Gulch up to the infamous big-five Liberty Bell Mountain avalanche tracks.

On Monday, March 23, reinforced with an additional contractor D-8 bulldozer, depending on avalanche conditions and control work, the eastside crew will continue punching through to the Washington Pass summit where until this past week just over five feet of snow covered the highway. Last year when the crew arrived there the snow was about 10 feet deep.

Also on Monday with work wrapping up on the rock stabilization project at the chronic slide near MP 142, the westside WSDOT crew is set to start clearing snow eastward up Granite Creek valley toward Rainy Pass.

No promises just broad hints from WSDOT, but there is conjecture that the Skagit-to-Methow stretch of State Route 20 could be open by mid-April. That requires all elements influencing progress _ from equipment durability, to weather and avalanche conditions, to personnel availability _ to be leaning in the same direction.

However, if that comes to pass that’s going to allow enough time to take the direct route to sample some of the year-round Okanogan fishing waters before the last Saturday in April seasonal opener of stalwarts such as Pearrygin, Fish, the Conconullys, Wannacut and Aeneas lakes.

ON THE CLOCK REMINDERS

Wild steelhead retention: Though the vast bulk of early-returning hatchery-origin (adipose fin clipped) steelhead are already in, selected reaches of eight North Olympic Peninsula streams are currently open for retention of wild or native fish.

The limit’s one wild steelhead per season (year). Closing dates for wild steelhead retention, by stream, are either April 15 or April 30. More details can be found on special rules pages 40-43 of the 2014-2015 Washington Sport Fishing Regulations pamphlet.

Catch and release is permitted on days following retention of the annual wild fish limit and on days before the daily combined bag limit is reached.

Make a fish rule: Through the end of March citizens may formally present for consideration changes they think should be made to next year’s Puget Sound freshwater sport fishing regulations for all species except salmon.

Department fishery specialists will evaluate all proposals and prepare a potential regs list for public review in July. The fish and wildlife commission will take public comment on them in November and make final decisions in December for rules that will take effect in May 2016.

Becoming a law-proposer is as simple as logging onto wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ regulations/rule_proposals/ and filling out the e-form. For hand-written submissions, call 360 902-2700 and ask for a hardcopy form.

Hunt all fall: Interested deer and elk hunters who want to have option of pursuing their quarry all through the fall, have until March 31 to toss their hat into the e-hopper for the right to buy a multi-season permit for either or both big game species depending on their fortune. There are 8,500 such chits for deer and 1,000 of them for elk.

Multi-season permit bearers, with the appropriate weaponry used in each, may hunt every general season and their selected game management units, open for bow and arrow, muzzleloader or modern firearms users. Elk hunters with multi-season permits get to hunt both sides of the Cascades.

Go to fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov to buy a $7.10 e-app or you can call a special telephone number or go to any hunting and fishing license dealer to make the purchase.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald’s outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http:// pblogs. bellinghamherald.com/ outdoors.

With 312,600 spring or early chinook expected to return to the Columbia Basin this year, personal use salmon fishers at this moment have the run of the lower river (with some exceptions) from Buoy 10 below Astoria upstream to the Washington-Oregon landward boundary above McNary Dam.

Of the overall forecast run of early kings more than 232,500 are believed to be headed for watery Washington, Idaho and Oregon destinations above Bonneville Dam.

Columbia Compact (Washington and Oregon) managers under a conservative approach have earmarked for the taking 11,500 hatchery-origin chinook for the below Bonneville fishery, another 1,200 marked kings for the Bonneville-Wallula Pool fishery and still more for the Washington Snake River fishery.

An emergency regulation posted Jan. 30, 2015 (fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1542) currently governs the lower Columbia River winter-spring sport fishery, which is managed under phased reach openings or rule implementations.

In all Columbia River waters anglers are required to use barbless hooks and besides their basic Washington fishing license every adult angler must also have a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement and a catch record card to document the salmon and steelhead.

Also until May 15, personal use anglers on the lower Columbia River are bound by an overarching rule that prohibits retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and shad on days when the river is closed to the taking of spring chinook salmon.

Otherwise, in the Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam reach anglers operate under a salmonid bag limit of six fish (hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead), with no more than two being adults (longer than minimum or jack lengths), and no more than one being an adult springer. All wild chinook and wild steelhead must be let go without removal from the water. Salmon minimum size: 12 inches. A jack chinook is defined as being from 12 to 24 inches long.

Also between Beacon Rock and Bonneville Dam it’s unlawful to fish for salmonids and shad from boats.

Buoy 10 to Bonneville reaches are set to close to salmon fishing Friday, April 10 with spot or day closures (March 24, 31 and April 7) for commercial openings.

Plying waters from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Washington-Oregon landward boundary takeoff for hatchery spring chinook, steelhead and shad began March 16 with significant limitations.

Boat borne fishers may work only waters from the Tower Island line (in the Bonneville Pool six downstream of The Dalles Dam) upstream including the lake Celilo (The Dalles Dam), Umatilla (John Day Dam) and Wallula (McNary Dam) impoundments to the Washington Oregon line.

However, dry foot fishers are allowed to plunk or spin-cast from the banks of the Bonneville Pool (upstream of the dam to the Tower Island line).

The same daily salmonid sport retention rule applies for these waters which remain open under this rule until Wednesday, May 6.

Anglers setting out from this area bent on boating or beaching a Columbia clipped springer or steelhead together with wild shad are well advised before departing to check for fishery status and updates at WDFW’s emergency regs postings available through the on-line portal at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Besides the possibility of closings there is the potential for more opportunities to fish if the 2015 Columbia early chinook run does come to pass or exceeds expectations so checking for emergency openings is advisable.

CLOSING IN ON THE SUMMIT

With the lighter snowpack and less of it sliding, state transportation department maintenance specialists out of Twisp this past week cleared 15 miles of North Cascades Highway pavement from Early Winters through Spiral Gulch up to the infamous big-five Liberty Bell Mountain avalanche tracks.

On Monday, March 23, reinforced with an additional contractor D-8 bulldozer, depending on avalanche conditions and control work, the eastside crew will continue punching through to the Washington Pass summit where until this past week just over five feet of snow covered the highway. Last year when the crew arrived there the snow was about 10 feet deep.

Also on Monday with work wrapping up on the rock stabilization project at the chronic slide near MP 142, the westside WSDOT crew is set to start clearing snow eastward up Granite Creek valley toward Rainy Pass.

No promises just broad hints from WSDOT, but there is conjecture that the Skagit-to-Methow stretch of State Route 20 could be open by mid-April. That requires all elements influencing progress _ from equipment durability, to weather and avalanche conditions, to personnel availability _ to be leaning in the same direction.

However, if that comes to pass that’s going to allow enough time to take the direct route to sample some of the year-round Okanogan fishing waters before the last Saturday in April seasonal opener of stalwarts such as Pearrygin, Fish, the Conconullys, Wannacut and Aeneas lakes.

ON THE CLOCK REMINDERS

Wild steelhead retention: Though the vast bulk of early-returning hatchery-origin (adipose fin clipped) steelhead are already in, selected reaches of eight North Olympic Peninsula streams are currently open for retention of wild or native fish.

The limit’s one wild steelhead per season (year). Closing dates for wild steelhead retention, by stream, are either April 15 or April 30. More details can be found on special rules pages 40-43 of the 2014-2015 Washington Sport Fishing Regulations pamphlet.

Catch and release is permitted on days following retention of the annual wild fish limit and on days before the daily combined bag limit is reached.

Make a fish rule: Through the end of March citizens may formally present for consideration changes they think should be made to next year’s Puget Sound freshwater sport fishing regulations for all species except salmon.

Department fishery specialists will evaluate all proposals and prepare a potential regs list for public review in July. The fish and wildlife commission will take public comment on them in November and make final decisions in December for rules that will take effect in May 2016.

Becoming a law-proposer is as simple as logging onto wdfw.wa.gov /fishing/ regulations/rule_proposals/ and filling out the e-form. For hand-written submissions, call 360 902-2700 and ask for a hardcopy form.

Hunt all fall: Interested deer and elk hunters who want to have option of pursuing their quarry all through the fall, have until March 31 to toss their hat into the e-hopper for the right to buy a multi-season permit for either or both big game species depending on their fortune. There are 8,500 such chits for deer and 1,000 of them for elk.

Multi-season permit bearers, with the appropriate weaponry used in each, may hunt every general season and their selected game management units, open for bow and arrow, muzzleloader or modern firearms users. Elk hunters with multi-season permits get to hunt both sides of the Cascades.

Go to fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov to buy a $7.10 e-app or you can call a special telephone number or go to any hunting and fishing license dealer to make the purchase.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald’s outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.

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