Take Your Pick of Activities: Summer is in Full Swing

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Whether you hike, fish, bird watch or just like to watch the wind blow the grasses and the rain dripping from the eaves — there are plenty of outdoor adventuring options out there.

Word on Birds
There is a quartet of Common Ravens “wonk, wonk, wonk”-ing around my farm. My best guess is that the two that are doing the most talking are the young fledglings. The cacophony of garbled chatter is enough to drive anyone crazy, I wouldn’t blame any raven parent for abandoning their young at this stage.

Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle. Josh Carlton, Puyallup, pulled a 10-pound summer-run steelhead out of the Cowlitz River Monday morning using a bobber and a jig. Carlton hooked the fish at the base of the gravel point below Barrier Dam. "It took me on a run downstream," Carlton said. "As I came around the corner, I tossed my iPhone onto the bank. I'm glad I did, because the fish also took me for a swim." Carlton has landed two Floy-tagged recycled fish in the last two weeks, one at Barrier Dam and the other at Blue Creek.

I discovered a pair of Barn Owl chicks in my barn a few weeks ago. The white, fuzz-covered owlets are unnaturally quiet compared to the other bird babies that inhabit my backyard. Every three or four days I peek in to check up on them. I stare at them, they stare quietly back at me. It seems an entire battalion of Red-winged Blackbird fledglings has invaded my backyard feeders. I started seeing young birds over a month ago, they are sending reinforcements to empty the seed trays on a daily basis. If this keeps up I may have to take out a loan to cover the cost of feeding them.
I’ve heard a Lapis Lazuli has been spotted at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. If my budget and the weather allows, I hope to head up with the walking tour next Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Photography Workshop
At 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 14, the Friends of Seminary Hill Natural Area are sponsoring a photography workshop with Marlene Hodge.
For more information contact Sandy Godsey, President, Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area, 736-7045 or godseys@compprime.com.

Forest Road 25 Open
FR 99 to Windy Ridge is still closed due to snow, but FR 25 has just opened up between Cougar and Randle.
The replacement of Benham Creek Bridge on the north end of FR 25 was completed on schedule, and crews have pushed through lingering snows along high-elevations stretches.
On Friday, June 29, officials from Lewis County, Western Federal Lands Highway Division and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest held a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the new bridge.
“It gives us a venue for the tourist trade we’ve become reliant upon,” said Lewis County Commissioner, Lee Grose regarding Forest Road 25, which provides access to the east side of Mount St. Helens from the north. “Not to mention, I use this road quite often myself to visit family in White Salmon,” Grose added. “It cuts an hour and a half off the trip.”

Rivers, Lake, and Streams
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 264 spring Chinook adults, 35 jacks, 12 mini jacks, 652 summer-run steelhead adults, one jack and one winter-run steelhead at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
Tacoma Power employees released 65 spring Chinook adults and 10 jacks at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam; 33 spring Chinook adults and 17 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek; and 71 spring Chinook adults and 5 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood. Fifteen mini jacks were released into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.
A total of 31 recycled and tagged summer-run steelhead were transported to the lower Cowlitz River and released at the I-5 boat launch. This is the second release of the 2012 summer-run recycling study conducted by WDFW.

In the Salt
All areas of Puget Sound except one open for crab fishing Thursdays through Mondays (the exception being Marine Area 7 in the San Juan Islands).
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.
Summer salmon anglers have been reeling in bright Chinook since mid-June.
“The Chinook selective fishery got off to a quick start and anglers have continued to do well since,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “I expect that will continue in July, when anglers should start finding more hatchery coho salmon as well.”
Anglers fishing marine areas 1 and 2 can retain one Chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. You must, however, release wild coho salmon.
On the north coast, the Chinook selective fishery continues through June 30 in marine areas 3 and 4, where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon. Anglers are required to release wild Chinook and all coho during the selective fishery.
Beginning July 1, the traditional recreational fishery for Chinook and hatchery coho got under way in marine areas 3 and 4. Anglers fishing marine areas 3 and 4 will have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release wild coho salmon.
Salmon fishing is open seven days a week, except in Marine Area 2 where fishing is open Sundays through Thursdays.
Halibut is still an option out on the coast. Marine Area 1 is open for halibut fishing Thursday through Saturday each week through July 14 or when the quota is reached, whichever occurs first. The fishery will reopen on Aug. 3 and continue three days a week (Friday-Sunday), until the remaining quota is taken, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.
In Puget Sound, salmon fishing seasons opened July 1 in marine areas 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 12 (Hood Canal – south of Ayock Point). Marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 13 (South Puget Sound) remain open.
Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager, said salmon anglers fishing the inside portion of Marine Area 4 have done well, suggesting that fishing will get off to a good start in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “Early indications look good,” he said. “Anglers have done really well for Chinook during the ocean selective fishery, and that could stretch into the Strait.”
Farther south, fishing for hatchery Chinook in Marine Area 11 has been good, Thiesfeld said. “Westport is getting all the attention, but the folks fishing the Tacoma area are doing pretty well,” he said. “There are definitely some fish to be caught in Marine Area 11.”
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website The (Almost) Daily News (almostdailynews.com), find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason – The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email kim@almostdailynews.com.