By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Last week, in my report on the Chehalis River, I stated that an angler was able to keep only two of the coho out of thirty he hooked into that day and I said it because coho carried the dreaded adipose fin and were illegal to keep.
I was wrong (it isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last) and Charles McElroy was misquoted.
I had a phone call from a reader said he tossed back a “wild” coho while fishing in the Chehalis River. That was my fault. I take full responsibility and I’m sorry.
Also, take note that WDFW has “selective gear rules … barbless hooks required” listed under the Chehalis River, cross that out, it’s a misprint.
The correct rule for salmon on the Chehalis River is as follows: “Nov. 1-Nov. 30, Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6. Up to 3 adults may be retained of which only 2 may be wild coho. Release Chinook and chum.”
Time to Talk Turkey
It isn’t too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving turkeys. Late fall turkey season opens Nov. 20 and runs through Dec. 15.
To hunt turkeys you must have a small game license ($45.50 for residents) and a valid turkey transport tag ($15.90 for residents). Take a youth under 16 with you and you’ll spend $18.50 for the license and get a turkey tag for free.
Modern firearm for deer closed yesterday. The late season begins Nov. 15. Bow and muzzleloader hunters won’t be allowed back into the woods for deer again until a week later.
“Deer hunters that I talked to saw a few does this week,” said Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, “and even fewer bucks. Those that have been seeing bucks said they were small.”
Hunters using modern firearms will get another chance to take a deer, during the popular late-buck season that runs Nov. 15-18.
Eric Holman, a WDFW wildlife biologist, said late-season deer hunters can expect far better conditions than in the early season, when wildfire dangers prompted widespread access closures.
“Now rain is falling, the gates to the forestlands are open and the deer are going into rut,” Holman said. “Those conditions make the late season the best time to get a deer.”
Modern firearm season for elk opens up Nov. 3 on the westside and will continue through Nov. 14. Black powder and archers will get their chance again a week after the rifle season ends.
Last year, hunters harvested 966 bulls and 294 anterless elk in District 10 (Lewis, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties), one of the top-producing areas of the state. Lowland areas including GMU 520 (Winston), 550 (Coweeman), 530 (Ryderwood) and 506 (Willapa Hills) are expected to be good bets again this year.
The black bear season ends Nov. 15, but cougar hunting remains open through next March.
Wildfire Effects on Wildlife
Visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildfires/ to read what effects WDFW believes the wildfires have had on local wildlife.
The Cascade Creek fire that burned 20,000 acres of USFA land is considered to be “beneficial to the summer range” and the fires will rejuvenate the habitat and improve forage for deer, elk, bighorn sheep and other wildlife over the next several years.
The short-term view, however, is dependent on whether this winter is a severe one. But with a majority of the winter range intact, most deer and elk will likely survive if 2012-13 winter conditions are normal.
Locally produced mallards and wood ducks are providing early-season hunting opportunities for waterfowl hunters throughout the region. Duck hunting should improve greatly toward the end of November, when migratory birds are expected to start pushing down from British Columbia and Alaska in record numbers.
Need to polish up your on-the-wing duck identification skills? Go to http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist/index.htm and make your way through the “Ducks at a Distance, Waterfowl Identification Guide.”
Goose hunting opens Nov. 3 in Goose Management Area 3 (which includes Lewis and Skamania counties) and Nov. 10 for authorized hunters in Goose Management Area 2A (Cowlitz, Clark and Wahkiakum counties).
“We’re seeing a lot of geese flying this week,” said McElroy. “Some are settling in the harvested corn fields.”
If you haven’t made friends with a local farmer already, now’s the time. Permission to hunt isn’t easy to come by, you might think about offering a day or two of labor or, at minimum, a home baked chocolate cake to grease the welcoming wheels of the landowner with a field of geese.
On the Water
“Nobody’s going to be catching much this week in the Chehalis system or anywhere else this week,” said McElroy, “the rivers are running high and the whole Peninsula’s blown.”
It takes quite a storm system to blow the Cowlitz River, but where the Toutle pours in “I’d be surprised if it’s not really dirty there,” he added.
The Newaukum is still rising and running mud, the Satsop is 2′ from flood stage.
“Everything is blown except the Cowlitz, Lewis and maybe the Kalama,” said McElroy.
Late-run coho salmon may be the best bet for anglers who want to catch fish — except the coho in the Cowlitz don’t seem to be cooperating.
“They’re not biting,” said McElroy. “There’s a lot of fish being transferred up river, but those fish seem to be going straight through the river system and into the separator.”
Catch rates on the Klickitat River — including both coho and Chinook salmon — were running around a fish per rod in late October. Salmon fishing was almost as good on the Cowlitz River, reported the WDFW.
“These are fairly large fish, some weighing up to 20-pounds apiece,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “The trick is getting them to bite. The best time is when they are moving upriver, drawn by high water. Otherwise, it can be hard to get their attention.”
State regulations allow anglers to catch and keep up to six adult coho salmon per day on the Cowlitz, Klickitat, Kalama, Lewis and Washougal rivers – and on the lower portion of the Grays River. Except in the Klickitat River, only those fish with a clipped adipose fin may be retained.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,514 coho adults, 813 jacks, 429 fall Chinook adults, 23 jacks, 130 summer-run steelhead and 64 cutthroat trout during seven days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 228 coho adults and 157 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Site, and they released 258 fall Chinook adults, twelve jacks, 139 coho adults and 284 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood.
A total of 782 coho adults, 271 jacks, 81 fall Chinook adults, seven jacks and four cutthroat trout were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.
River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,500 cubic feet per second on Oct. 29, water visibility at 12 feet.
“The way the wind has been blowing,” said McElroy, “you don’t want to be on Riffe or Lake Mayfield.”
Look for a clear, calm day before heading out on the lake in anything too small.
The South Sound is still fishing well for chum salmon.
“That’s a bobber and anchovy show up there,” said McElroy.
As for me, I’ll be putting on my raingear and heading out to the Barrier Dam today, hoping for a little window of good fishing before the next heavy rainstorm hits.
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.