By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Hunters in the Randle and Packwood areas have reported seeing more cougar and bear sign than what has been normal for this time of year and markedly decreased air quality due to the smoke from the South Point wildfire.
Aside from its virtues as a fire retardant, a good steady rain would also improve overall hunting conditions during the weeks ahead, said Jerry Nelson, WDFW’s deer and elk specialist. Both species benefitted from the mild winter last year, but bone-dry leaves and branches make it difficult for hunters to stalk their prey, he said.
“Until we get some rain, it’s like walking on cornflakes out there,” Nelson said.
The modern firearm season for deer runs Oct. 13-31, muzzleloader season for deer runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 7. For elk, the early muzzleloader season runs Oct. 6-12.
Salmon, too, would benefit from some rain, because that is their signal to move upriver, said John Long, WDFW salmon manager. Without a push from precipitation, salmon — particularly coho salmon — can remain “bunched up” in the lower ends of rivers and may not be able to take advantage of the spawning habitat available to them upstream.
“That’s not good for salmon, and it’s not good for salmon anglers either,” Long said. “Once we see some rainfall, we’ll also see fresh fish moving up the rivers that are more inclined to bite.”
WDFW Seeks Comments on Sportfishing Rule Proposals
WDFW will accept public comments through Dec. 15 on proposed changes to the state’s sportfishing rules.
Printed copies of the proposals and comment forms are available by contacting WDFW’s Fish Program at (360) 902-2672, or visit the Sportfishing Rules website, wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/, to review the proposed changes to the rules.
WDFW is recommending nearly 70 sportfishing rules proposals move forward for public comment, including proposals that would:
· Convert Long Lake (Olympia) to a year-round fishery;
· Allow to two-pole rule on “quality waters,” including Ft. Borst Park Pond;
· And expand fishing opportunities to family, disabled, and seniors
· Open all resident trout streams on Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend where anadromous fish are not present, including the Nisqually River – upstream of Alder Reservoir to the Mount Rainier National Park Boundary;
· Change spot shrimp daily quota from 80 to 200 per person in the Pacific Ocean, Marine Areas 1-4 (Marine Area 4 west of Bonilla-Tatoosh) only;
· Provide a new season from the mouth of the South Fork Toutle River to 4700 Road Bridge from the last Saturday in May to the first Friday in June, with selective gear rules and catch and release except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained;
· Allow retention of hatchery steelhead on the Kalama River from Summers Creek upstream to Kalama Falls;
· Change trout rules to daily limit 2, minimum size 8 inches, on Skate Creek and Tilton River;
· Open the Blue Creek fishery to all anglers and remove requirement that only anglers who permanently use a wheelchair may fish for the following section: from the posted sign at fence (about 40 feet downstream from rearing pond outlet) to the posted sign above the rearing pond outlet;
· Increase daily limit to 10 kokanee plus 5 trout on Lake Merwin;
· Allow year-round fishing at Lake Scanewa.
No Final Word on Razor Clams
WDFW has tentatively scheduled a razor-clam dig Oct. 13-18. The final word on the dig isn’t in yet, but it should be in any day now. Check the website, wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams, for the latest information.
Proposed digging days and evening low tides for beaches tentatively scheduled are: Oct. 13 (Saturday), 5:41 pm, (+0.3 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks; Oct. 14 (Sunday), 6:26 pm, (-0.5 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks; Oct. 15 (Monday), 7:11 pm, (-1.1 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors; Oct. 16 (Tuesday), 7:57 pm, (-1.5 ft.); Twin Harbors; Oct. 17 (Wednesday), 8:44 pm, (-1.6 ft.); Twin Harbors; Oct. 18 (Thursday), 9:34 pm, (-1.4 ft.); Twin Harbors.
On the Water
“Fishing for coho salmon has been very good from the Strait of Juan de Fuca all the way down to south Puget Sound,” said John Long, statewide salmon manager for WDFW. “That should continue at least through mid-October.”
In marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) there is a two-salmon daily limit and you are no longer be required to release wild Chinook. However, all wild coho caught in Marine Area 13 must be released.
In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), salmon anglers fishing north of Ayock Point have a daily limit of four coho. All other salmon species must be released. South of Ayock Point anglers can retain two hatchery Chinook as part of their four salmon daily limit. However, they must release wild Chinook and chum salmon.
Fishing regulations in Hood Canal change Oct. 16, when anglers throughout the canal will have a daily limit of four salmon, but only two of which can be a Chinook. All wild Chinook must be released.
Through Oct. 7, Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2-2) anglers fishing can retain one Chinook as part of their three-salmon daily limit. Anglers are also limited to two wild coho, and must release chum salmon. Beginning Oct. 8, Chinook salmon also must be released.
Farther south, anglers fishing Willapa Bay (Marine Area 2-1) have a daily limit of six salmon, including up to three adult fish. Chum and wild Chinook salmon must be released. Salmon anglers can fish with two poles in Willapa Bay through Jan. 31 with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement.
A portion of the fishing regulations for the Wynoochee River in the fishing pamphlet are incorrect, take the time to pencil in the changes in your rules pamphlet: “Anglers fishing the Wynoochee from the WDFW White Bridge Access Site to the 7400 Line Bridge above the mouth of Schafer Creek are not required to follow selective gear rules. Anglers are, however, required to use single-point barbless hooks from Aug. 16-Nov. 30, and bait is prohibited from Sept. 16-Nov.30.”
Some of the best all-round salmon fishing recently has been in the Lewis and Klickitat rivers, where recent catch rates have been averaging a fish per rod, Hymer said. Starting Oct. 1, anglers fishing the mainstem Lewis may retain any Chinook salmon, but North Fork Lewis waters from Colvin Creek to Merwin Dam will close to all fishing through Dec. 15. Retention of any Chinook has been allowed on the North Fork Lewis since mid-September.
“There’s lot of fish out in the tidal stretches,” said Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, “and they’re doing really well with bobber and eggs.”
The area around the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery at Blue Creek is also productive for hatchery sea-run cutthroats. Those aggressive fish averaging a foot or more can be caught on a variety of gear including bait, flies, or lures.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 788 fall Chinook adults, 115 jacks, five spring Chinook adults, 661 coho adults (double the count from the previous week), 335 jacks, 68 summer-run steelhead, and eight cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 133 fall Chinook adults, 45 jacks, five spring Chinook adults, 91 coho adults and 73 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Site; four fall Chinook jacks, four coho adults and 32 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood; and one fall Chinook adult, five jacks, eight coho adults, and 26 jacks into the Cispus River near Randle.
A total of 333 fall Chinook adults, 50 jacks, 297 coho adults, 141 jacks and five cutthroat trout were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.
The lower Cowlitz River has been fishing well, but anglers are complaining that the fish seem to have lockjaw lately.
The fishing at Riffe Lake is still good, but the water is getting low and it won’t be too long until it’ll be tough to launch a boat on the lake, said McElroy.
Lake Mayfield has picked up.
Merrill and Yale are fishing well, but those lakes are also low on water.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.