Outdoors

Increasing fire risks prompt early restrictions

With the winter-that-never-was now passed, conditions east of the Cascades have dried out to the point the state fish and wildlife department has decided to impose restrictions to lower the risk of wildfire on its state-owned or managed lands.

Banned by emergency order until further notice on all WDFW property are:

- fires or campfires. Visitors may still use LP, LPG and propane personal camp stoves and lanterns.

- smoking. It’s still permissible inside an enclosed vehicle.

- use of open flame or fuel-powered gear. Open flame torches, welding and internal combustion engine tools as chainsaws are forbidden.

- operating any motorized vehicle off developed roads. The only exception is parking to camp within 10 feet of a roadway in a locale without vegetation at developed campgrounds and trailheads.

Fish and wildlife area managers remind visitors that it’s not permissible at anytime of the year to ignite fireworks of any kind on department lands. It’s similarly forbidden to flick a lit smoking product or other burning material of any kind from a motor vehicle.

WDFW officials say their wildfire risk management actions are dove-tailed with those of other federal, state and local authorities.

For the latest postings of regional preventive fire restriction notices, fire hazard conditions and wildfire suppression updates, log onto either the dnr.wa.gov (state) or fs.fed.usda.gov (federal) Web sites.

DRAW RESULTS ON-LINE

Thousands of lucky hunters have been chosen and now Washington’s 2015 controlled or special hunt drawing results may be reviewed on-line.

If you’re one who did not check the box asking to be notified by email if drawn you can now find out through the fish and wildlife department’s secure portal at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wa/specialhuntlookup.

These special permits allow successful applicants to hunt for quarry at places and times as well as with selected weaponry outside general seasons.

Deer and elk special permit recipients already will have bought their respective hunting licenses and companion transport tags prior to entering these drawings.

But mountain goat, bighorn sheep and moose applicants had the discretion, given the relative expense of those specialty tags to wait until the drawing results were in before make their purchases.

There is a time limitation, though, for these successful applicants who once they have the news must go buy their hunting documents.

Persons drawn for a permit in error or those who are unable due to illness or military deployment to exercise their special permit may have their preference points restored in the appropriate category upon providing corroborating information request to the department.

Special permits usually do not expand a would-be hunter’s bag or annual limit for big game unless the permit bestows a second tag such as for a doe.

A SHIFT ON THE KALAMA

Changes in management of hatchery-origin summer steelhead recruits together with their harvest in the Kalama River are set to take effect the first of July.

Fish and wildlife managers are holding a meeting this week in Vancouver to review with anglers those new rules and procedures as well as the need for them.

For the coming fishing regulations year and several thereafter:

* anglers must retain every hatchery or adipose fin clipped steelhead they land and must stop fishing when they make the hat trick (three-hatchery-fish catch).

* the department will suspend the practice of transporting hatchery steelhead above Kalama Falls. Anglers may still fish these waters and keep the hatchery fish they land.

* also put in abeyance is the re-circulating of hatchery steelhead captured at Kalama Falls Hatchery downstream to pass through the fishery a second or perhaps more times.

Fishery managers say these changes have become necessary because of the numbers of hatchery fish that are surmounting the hatchery’s old river barrier and insinuating themselves more directly in the natural or wild steelhead spawning has increased dramatically.

Monitoring in recent years has found that as many as three quarters of the summer-run fish above the hatchery are of cultured-origin, which is unacceptable they say.

Wild steelhead populations in the Kalama and a number of other major lower Columbia River tributaries were declared to be threatened in 1998 and at that time had federal Endangered Species Act protection bestowed on them.

NEW REGS BOOK COMING

Wednesday, July 1 the 2015-16 set of personal use or recreational fishing regulations take effect.

The new edition is available on line at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ and if it’s not on the counter now it will shortly be at all Washington point-of-sale hunting and fishing license dealers.

Until then the 2014-15 book rules unless there’s an emergency regulation overrules those ‘permanent’ iterations.

WILD RAINBOWS AT ROSS

Ross Lake’s four-month personal use or recreational fishing season is set to open Wednesday, July 1.

The rules for this fishery are unique to the waters and besides requiring that anglers have a Washington state fishing license, they mandate:

* use of selective qualified gear (including mandatory single-point, barbless hooks, knotless net and no bait).

* limiting the daily catch or bag to three trout (all one species or combined rainbow, cutthroat or eastern brook) and six trout in possession

* making 13 inches the minimum trout size

* allowing trout to be caught and released until the daily limit is retained

* releasing all native char (bull trout)

* fishing only from the first of July to the end of October.

Getting to and venturing on the waters of this 24-mile long North Cascades reservoir is limited to two main ways since its lengthy shoreline is largely road-less and even trail-less for most of its west side.

For self-contained RV or tent-billeted fishers towing their own boats, the north approach via British Columbia into Ross’s north or up-lake end is the most convenient and appropriate.

The Ross Lake National Recreation Area that encompasses Ross Lake in the United States is part of the North Cascades National Park complex administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

At the north end of the lake, the park service operates Hozomeen Campground and Winnebago Flats for first-come, first-served drive up use. If these camps are full there is usually space available at fee sites on the B. C. side.

The British Columbia provincial forestry and parks agencies manage the road access to Ross Lake’s north end as well as a large recreational camping complex on the B. C. side of the border in the Skagit Valley. The occasionally rough Silver-Skagit Road leaves the pavement of the TransCanada Highway just west of Hope, B.C.

Because of the area’s popularity and the desire of its managers not to see it ruined by indiscriminant use, access to and camping along the reservoir’s more remote shores is regulated.

Boat-in or eastside trail travelers may depart from Hozomeen for points south, but they must make sure they have acquired the necessary backcountry permits required to use the developed lakeshore campsites.

No overnight stays on Ross Lake’s shores outside the developed sites are allowed.

North end visitors may get backcountry camping permits from the Sedro-Woolley park headquarters office. Would-be lake camp visitors entering Ross Lake National Recreation Area from the south may get their permits from the park service’s Wilderness Information Office at Marblemount.

Backcountry permits for any of the 19 lakeside (boat- or walk-in) camps are issued to in-person applicants only on the day of or day before use starts. Due to the demand, no reservations can be made nor can these permits be self-issued.

For more details about a Ross Lake backcountry visit or stay call:

* the park’s Wilderness Information Office at Marblemount (360) 854-7245.

* North Cascades park headquarters office (360) 854-7200.

* or visit on line the nps.gov.noca Web site and check out its Ross Lake National Recreation Area Web pages.

Ross’s business or south end (where Seattle City Light’s gravity dam/hydroelectric facility holds back the Skagit River) is the alternate approach, accessible via the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), offering visitors an unusual pilgrimage to these trout-filled waters.

Ross Lake Resort, a unique floating accommodation in the wilds of the North Cascades, offers its patrons all the comforts of home.

And if you don’t come so equipped, it doubles as a full-service fishing camp providing all the gear necessary to pursue Ross’s burgeoning rainbows.

Reservations are essential for these accommodations and are highly recommended for boat rentals and special transport services as well. Call 206 386-4437 or log on to rosslakeresort.com.

Check next week for more details about the resort as well as tactics for tying into these wild rainbow trout.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald’s outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that appears Sundays.

This week’s Skagit hatchery and flow info

FACILITY (Stock/Species)

Marblemount Hatchery (Skagit spring chinook): 743 adults as of June 8. Same week total in 2014 – 433 spring chinook.

Baker Lake Hatchery (Baker sockeye): 196 sockeye trapped & transferred (187 into Baker Lake) as of June 19. Same week total in 2014 – 12 to hatchery.

FLOW (Skagit River Marblemount Gauge)

Recent: 3,440 to 4,800 c.f.s. range 2,500 to 3900 c.f.s under median daily flow (Saturday, June 20), significant drop under daily power generation fluctuations.

Forecast: No prediction for this up-river gauge, but the Skagit elsewhere is forecast to drop slightly through Sunday, June 21 then steady to Tuesday, June 22.

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