Fishing & Hunting Report: Emergency Wildfire Restrictions Lifted

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
WDFW has lifted the emergency restrictions on the land it manages throughout the state, but urged anyone visiting those lands to continue using caution when doing anything that could spark a wildlfire.
Greg Schirato, deputy director of WDFW’s wildlife program, said the department’s action in lifting the emergency restriction is consistent with those of the Governor’s Office and DNR, which have lifted statewide burn bans in recent days.

“Wildfire risks are easing, particularly after the recent rains in western Washington,” Schirato said. “But it’s important that everyone remain vigilant and avoid any action that could touch off another blaze.”
By lifting its emergency restrictions, WDFW will again allow campers, hunters and others who visit the department’s lands to build campfires, practice target shooting, use generators and operate chainsaws, Schirato said.
Standard rules for those and other activities on WDFW lands are available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/public_conduct_rules/index.html. For information about wildfire risks around the state, see http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger/BurnRisk.aspx.

Big Rack Contest at Sunbirds
The Chehalis and Yelm Sunbird Shopping Center stores are hosting a “Big Buck Contest.”
Bring in your buck (Washington state licensees only), harvested during modern firearm season early buck (through Oct. 31) to either store location during store hours (but leave it in your truck, please).
Bust will be measured from the widest part of the rack and around the base of the horn.
First place wins a $200 gift card, second place earns a $100 gift card, and third gets $50.
According to Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at the Chehalis Sunbird Shopping Center, the Yelm store has already seen five nice bucks come in for measurement.
See www.sunbirdshoppingcenter.com for more details.

Hunters Thankful for Rain
The heavy rains over the weekend have set the stage for improved hunting through the end of the month.
“This rain is just what the doctor ordered,” said Dave Ware, game manager WDFW. “Some hunting areas were affected by area closures and super-dry conditions on opening day, but the situation has definitely improved since then.”
As of mid-month, the Governor’s Office, the DNR and WDFW had all lifted burn bans on state lands. In addition, with wildfire risks subsiding, most timber companies were opening their gates to hunters for the first time in weeks.
“That’s critical for deer hunters,” Ware said. “Some of the best deer hunting in the state takes place on private timberlands.”
The modern firearm season for deer will continue through Oct. 31.
General hunting seasons for ducks, coots and snipe reopens Saturday, Oct. 20. Goose-hunting season will continue daily through Oct. 25 before picking up again in November. However, goose management area 2B (Pacific County) is only open Saturdays and Wednesdays through Oct. 24 and then Nov. 3-Jan. 19.

Razor Clams Tentative Schedule
Clam diggers that missed the razor clam dig that ends tonight at Twin Harbors will have plenty of other chances to hit the beach in the months ahead.
WDFW has announced a tentative schedule for razor clam openings through the end of the year, including one later this month.
Starting Oct. 27, Twin Harbors will be open for four consecutive evening digs if routine marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. Three other beaches — Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks — are also scheduled to open for digging Oct. 27-28 if test results are favorable.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said final word on those digs and more to follow will be announced about a week prior to each scheduled opening.
“This week’s dig, the first of the fall season, has been wet but productive,” Ayres said. “The number of clams is up at all beaches except Kalaloch this year, so we’re expecting a very good season.”
Ayres said WDFW based the tentative schedule of digs on a combination of clam abundance, low evening tides and the results of a public comment period conducted over the past month.
“By popular demand, we included a dig on New Year’s Eve, even though the tide isn’t ideal,” Ayres said. “It’s a holiday tradition for some diggers.”
All razor clam digs proposed through the end of the year are scheduled on low evening tides; no digging is allowed before noon on any day. Additional digs will be announced for 2013 early in the new year.
“After this series of digs, we’ll have enough clams available for harvest to offer significant digging opportunities during daylight hours in spring,” Ayres said.
Proposed razor clam digs later this month are:
Oct. 27, Saturday, 5:57 p.m., +0.2 ft., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Oct. 28, Sunday, 6:36 p.m., -0.1 ft., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Oct. 29, Monday, 7:12 p.m., -0.3, Twin Harbors
Oct. 30, Tuesday, 7:46 p.m., -0.4, Twin Harbors
November and December digs are also tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13-17, Nov. 26-Dec. 1, Dec. 11-Dec. 16, and Dec. 28-31.

On the Water
John Long, WDFW salmon manager, notes that hunters aren’t alone in welcoming the rain. Anglers throughout the state have been waiting for rivers to rise, prompting salmon and steelhead to start moving – and biting.
“These storms really primed the pump for this month’s salmon and steelhead fisheries,” Long said. “As most anglers know, the best time to catch fish is when the water clears and begins to decline after a high-water event.”
McElroy agrees.
“All of the coastal streams are up,” he said, “some are still a little muddy, but they’re clearing up pretty fast.”
McElroy also said that he has heard reports of good fishing in the Chehalis River, “as far up as Adna, they’re scattered all over the length of the river.”
The Cowlitz River has picked up.
“I’ve heard reports of silvers all the way up to Blue Creek,” said McElroy. “And there have been some fly fishermen getting some nice steelhead out of the Blue Creek flats.”
The Tilton has seen plenty of action and plenty of fish lately, “but it’s pretty crazy out there this time of year,” said McElroy.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,101 fall Chinook adults, 106 jacks, 1,504 coho adults, 721 jacks, 34 summer-run steelhead and seven cutthroat trout during seven days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 276 coho adults, 158 jacks and one cutthroat into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Site. They released 645 fall Chinook adults, 57 jacks, five coho adults and five jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood, and released 65 coho adults and 154 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.
A total of 606 coho adults, 271 jacks, 223 fall Chinook adults and 23 jacks were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.
River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,850 cubic feet per second on Monday, October 15. Water visibility is 13 feet.
Colder weather and rain should cool off the lakes enough to heat up the bite and clear out the weeds in local ponds.
“Offut Lake will start fishing good this week,” said McElroy, “and American Lake may get pretty decent.”
Crabbing has been good on the coast.
The Sound has been fishing well and the chum salmon are picking up.
“Anchovy under a bobber,” said McElroy. “And the chum are chrome bright, and pound for pound they fight harder than any other salmon. They’re a lot of fun.”

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.