CAUTION: Read Your Regs or Risk Your Rig
By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has finally released the 2011 Game Animal Population and Hunting Information reports this week. You can find the reports online at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/.
News isn’t good for forest grouse hunters, mainly due to the cold and wet spring we experienced on this side of the mountains, putting chicks at risk.
The news is better for deer hunters. “Deer populations seem to be increasing west of I-5 as timber harvest takes place, which produces better deer forage,” states the report for District 10.
Elk hunters will also be happy. “The winter of 2010-2011 was not severe and hopefully a few more bulls have escaped to older age classes,” the report states.
Pheasant release site general season opens on Saturday, Oct. 1, hunters 65 and older can take the field and hunt without heavy competition through Friday of this week.
Band-tailed pigeon closed Sept. 23, harvest cards are due by Sept. 30.
Mourning dove remains open through Sept. 30 and forest grouse will continue until Dec. 31.
Westside quail opens Oct. 1.
Early black powder deer season opened on Sept. 24 in many local areas.
Early elk season for muzzleloader hunters opens Oct. 1.
Rivers and Streams
Make sure you read the regs before you head out to fish any waters.
According to Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center, the local game warden ran into an ignorant angler with six unclipped kings in his possession.
“That guy walked home,” McElroy said.
If you are caught fishing illegally, WDFW can take not only your fish, but anything that you used to catch those illegal fish — including your rig. Beware, be smart and read the regulations.
Silvers are making themselves known in the Cowlitz River, according to Marshall Borsom at Fish Country in Ethel. Fall kings are also showing in good number, but there’s a catch.
“I put six kings in the boat this week, but I could only keep two of them,” said Borsom.
Wild chinook are averaging between 70 to 80 percent of the haul, keeping local anglers frustrated.
A lot of hooked and released kings are dying, according to Borsom, “they can’t survive being hooked that deep and then being let go. I’m trying to figure out when they are going to change the rules so we can keep one wild king with our limit of two.”
A 71-pound chinook salmon was taken out of the Columbia River this week.
“It took two and a half hours and two miles of river to land it,” said McElroy.
The silvers are in at the Puyallup River and they’re expecting another wave of humpys to hit any day now.
The Chehalis River is fishing well, but it’s the more knowledgeable fishermen getting the fish, according to McElroy.
“And with the rains we’ve been getting, it should bring the fish up from the bay,” said McElroy.
Sea run cutthroat are showing up in numbers at the Blue Creek area of the Cowlitz.
Mineral Lake closes Friday.
Rob Pogue, of Offut Lake Resort, said trout fishing is picking up. “On the cooler days there’s more fish, when it heats up, it slows down.”
Mayfield and Riffe lakes have been fishing well.
On the Beach and Ocean
Clam digs may be scheduled for the end of October, according to the WDFW.
In Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) the daily limit of salmon is 2 plus 2 pink (release wild chinook). The limit drops to two on Oct. 1.
In Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) the daily limit is 2 salmon (chinook minimum size 22 inches), release all wild chinook and coho, after Oct. 1 the rules will change.