Fishing News

New round of razor clam digs tentatively set for March, April

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Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
February 28, 2011
Contact: Dan Ayers, WDFW (360) 249-4628
Barb Maynes, ONP (360) 565-3005

New round of razor clam digs tentatively set for March, April
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to open ocean beaches to razor clam digging for several days in March and April if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.
WDFW will announce the results of those tests about a week before each dig is scheduled to start.
The March dig is tentatively scheduled to begin after noon Saturday, March 19, then switch to morning hours March 20-22. Under that plan, digging will be allowed at four beaches – Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks – March 19-20, then continue at two beaches – Long Beach and Twin Harbors – March 21-22.
No digging will be allowed before noon March 19 or after noon March 20-22.
“We’re planning this opening at the time of year when the best tides for digging razor clams switch from the evening to the morning,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “It’s a little tricky from a scheduling standpoint, but it does provide an opportunity for back-to-back digs the evening of Saturday, March 19, and the morning of Sunday, March 20.”
The fifth annual Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival, which includes a chowder cookoff, is also scheduled March 19. Information on the festival is available at .
Proposed digging days and low tides for March are:

  • Saturday, March 19, 7:04 p.m. (-0.1 ft); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
  • Sunday, March 20, 7:36 a.m. (-0.5 ft); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
  • Monday, March 21, 8:23 a.m. (-0.9 ft); Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Tuesday March 22, 9:12 a.m. (-1.0 ft); Long Beach, Twin Harbors

In April, WDFW plans to open Long Beach and Twin Harbors for digging April 7-9 until noon each day if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. Proposed digging days and low tides in April are:

  • Thursday, April 7, 9:37 a.m. (0.1 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Friday, April 8, 10:19 a.m., (0.2 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, April 9, 11:07 a.m. (0.4 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors

Kalaloch Beach will remain closed to razor-clam digging until further notice for an assessment of the clam population on the beach. The beach, located inside Olympic National Park, is managed by the National Park Service.
On the other beaches, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
Noting that 2010-11 state fishing licenses expire March 31, Ayres reminds diggers age 15 or older that they must purchase a 2011-12 license to participate in the April opening. Various licenses, ranging from a three-day razor-clam license to a multi-species combination license, are avaiIable online ( ), by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.
“We plan to announce additional digging opportunities later in spring, so diggers may want to take that into account when they go to purchase a license,” Ayres said.
Diggers should also be aware that Kalaloch Beach will remain closed to razor-clam digging until further notice for an assessment of the clam population on the beach. The beach, located inside Olympic National Park, is managed by the National Park Service.
The five razor-clam beaches in Washington include:

  • Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from Cape Shoalwater to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.

Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.

ODFW to begin hazing Willamette sea lions

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ODFW News Release
January 31, 2011
CLACKAMAS, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will soon begin hazing sea lions below the fish ladders at Willamette Falls in an attempt to reduce predation on federally listed salmon and steelhead on their migration to the upper reaches of the Willamette River and its tributaries.
Now in the second year of a pilot program to see whether sea lion hazing can be effective in moving these animals away from Willamette Falls and potentially reduce fish mortality, the program will take place five days a week between dawn and dusk from Feb. 1 through April 30. The hazing effort will be restricted to the Willamette River between Willamette Falls and the I-205 Bridge about a mile downstream.
A small crew of ODFW employees will deploy hazing fireworks from the Willamette Falls fish ladder and a boat to move California sea lions away from the falls where salmon and steelhead congregate before entering fish ladders. No hazing will occur downstream of the I-205 Bridge, and sea lions will not be killed or harmed.
“Our purpose is not to harm the sea lions or move them off the river entirely, our intent is to move these animals away from ESA-listed fish that are congregating at the fish ladders waiting to swim upstream,” said Tom Murtagh, ODFW fish biologist in charge of the project.
The hazing operation is being conducted under the authority and consistent with policies set in the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Additionally, predation of listed salmon and steelhead by California sea lions below Willamette Falls has been identified as a concern in the Draft Upper Willamette River Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan.
Tom Murtagh (971) 673-6044
Rick Swart (971) 673-6038

Willamette Closes to Sturgeon Retention starting Nov 9

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife                                                                       
Contact: John North (971) 673-6029
              Chris Kern (971) 673-6031                                                                              
Fax: (503) 947-6009

For Immediate Release                                                                              November 8, 2010

Recreational white sturgeon fishery closes on Willamette River
SALEM, Ore. – Oregon fishery managers announced today the closure of recreational sturgeon fishing on the Willamette River downstream from the Willamette Falls, including Multnomah Channel and the Gilbert River. This closure is effective Nov. 9.
According to fishery managers, the closure is needed to remain near the guideline of 3,600 fish set earlier this year. 
“For 2010, white sturgeon harvest guidelines were reduced 40 percent because of declining trends in numbers of fish,” said John North, fisheries manager for ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program.
“Anglers kept over 3,000 fish, or 84 percent of the annual guideline between January and March.  When the fishery reopened last week, effort and catch rates were high, resulting in the balance of the quota being used. That is why we are taking this action.”
Catch-and-release angling is allowed after the retention season closes.  The fishery is scheduled to reopen to retention on January 1, 2011.
In addition, the area from the Wauna Powerlines to Bonneville Dam is currently open to sturgeon retention three days per week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  This fishery should continue through Nov. 20, and potentially through the remainder of the year.  The States will continue to monitor this fishery and recommend action if needed.
More information on the sturgeon angling rules may be found on the ODFW website at:

States reopen lower Columbia chinook season

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October 14, 2010

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Chinook salmon fishing will reopen on the lower Columbia River downstream of the Lewis River from Oct. 15 through the end of the year.

In a joint hearing this week, the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife decided to reopen recreational chinook salmon fishing on the Columbia from Buoy 10 upstream approximately 88 miles to the mouth of the Lewis River.

This section had been closed for chinook since Sept. 12 to reduce impacts to federally-listed wild “tule”-stock chinook salmon destined for several lower Columbia River tributaries. Tules are a stock of chinook that spawn primarily in the lower Columbia tributaries.  They exhibit a different life-history than “bright”-stock fall chinook, which typically spawn later and migrate farther up the Columbia.

“The tule chinook have moved into the tributaries, so we are able to reopen this area to allow fishing access to other chinook stocks,” said Chris Kern, assistant fisheries manager for ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program. “The chinook run is definitely winding down and we don’t expect many to be caught from here on out but there are still some upriver brights available.”

Under the rule change, the entire Columbia is open to chinook, coho and steelhead fishing through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit is two adult salmon and steelhead in any combination. Steelhead must be adipose fin-clipped in order to be retained, as must coho in all areas downstream of the Hood River. Chinook may be retained whether they are fin-clipped or not.

“Essentially, this change will bring the entire Columbia River back under permanent Oregon fishing regulations for salmon and steelhead, as outlined in the 2010 fishing pamphlet,” said Kern.


Chris Kern    971-673-6031
Rick Swart    971-673-6038

Strong Columbia River chinook run highlights 2010 salmon forecasts

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OLYMPIA – Forecasts for strong chinook salmon returns to the Columbia River this summer could lead to improved fishing in the river and Washington’s ocean waters. Fishing prospects also are looking up for some rivers in Puget Sound, where coho salmon are expected to return in increased numbers.Those and other preseason salmon forecasts developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribes were released today at a public meeting in Olympia.
Forecasts for chinook, coho, sockeye, pink and chum salmon mark the starting point for developing 2010 salmon-fishing seasons in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas. Fishery managers have scheduled a series of public meetings over the next few weeks to discuss potential fishing opportunities before finalizing seasons in mid-April.
Phil Anderson, WDFW director, said fishery managers face new challenges this year in designing fishing seasons that not only meet conservation goals for salmon, but also minimize impacts on depressed rockfish populations in Puget Sound.
“It’s important that we take an ecosystem approach to managing our fisheries,” Anderson said. “We must take into account and minimize impacts to other species.”
Anderson said WDFW staff will work closely with tribal co-managers and constituents to develop fisheries that meet conservation objectives and provide fishing opportunities on abundant runs of wild and hatchery fish.
To help meet those goals, fishery managers will consider adding new mark-selective fisheries, which allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon but require that they release wild salmon, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.
“We’ve implemented several new selective fisheries for salmon in Puget Sound the last few years, and we will look at other areas in the Sound where these fisheries would be appropriate,” Pattillo said.
Fishery managers also are considering recreational selective fisheries for hatchery chinook in Washington’s ocean waters, where selective fisheries for hatchery coho salmon already have been in place for a decade, Pattillo said.
“Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook in the ocean would help us meet our conservation objectives while allowing for meaningful recreational fishing opportunities this summer,” Pattillo said.
Nearly 653,000 fall chinook are forecasted to make their way along the Washington coast to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more chinook than last year’s actual return. The increased numbers represent abundant returns to Spring Creek and other Columbia River hatcheries, which traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery, said Pattillo.
While the chinook forecast is up, the Columbia River coho return is expected to be down this year. Nearly 390,000 Columbia River coho are projected to make their way along Washington’s coast this year, compared to one million coho in 2009.
“The Columbia River coho return is down compared to last year’s run, which was one of the largest returns we’ve seen in the last decade,” Pattillo said. “But there should still be decent coho fishing opportunities in the ocean and the Columbia River this year.”
In Puget Sound, coho returns are expected to be up this year. Nearly 614,000 coho are forecast to return to Puget Sound streams, about 31,000 more fish than last year’s forecast. That could translate into good coho fishing in several North Sound rivers, including the Skagit, Snohomish and Stillaguamish, said Pattillo.
Summer/fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected total about 226,000 fish, slightly higher than last year’s projection. Pattillo said chinook fisheries in Puget Sound likely will be similar to last year.
However, a repeat of last year’s Skagit River summer chinook fishery is unlikely this season because of projected low chinook returns to the river, he said.
Meanwhile, another strong fall chum salmon return is forecasted for Hood Canal and other areas of Puget Sound, where the run is expected to total about 1.3 million fish. But a Lake Washington sockeye fishery is unlikely this year. The sockeye forecast is about 123,000, well below the minimum return of 350,000 sockeye needed to consider opening a recreational fishery in the lake.
State, tribal and federal fishery managers will meet March 6-12 in Sacramento with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to develop options for this year’s commercial and recreational ocean chinook and coho salmon fisheries. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
Additional public meetings have been scheduled in March and April to discuss regional fisheries issues. Input from these regional discussions will be considered as the season-setting process moves into the “North of Falcon” and PFMC meetings, which will determine the final 2010 salmon seasons. This year’s regional and North of Falcon meetings are set for:

  • March 11 – First coastal fisheries discussion, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St., Montesano. 
  • March 15 – Columbia River fisheries discussion, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., YWCA Community Room, 3609 Main Street, Vancouver, Wash. 
  • March 16 – First North of Falcon meeting, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., General Administration Building Auditorium, 210 11th Ave. S.W., Olympia. 
  • March 23 – Eastern Washington North of Falcon discussion, 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Benton PUD, 2721 W. 10th Ave. Kennewick. 
  • March 24 – Second coastal fisheries discussion, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Raymond Elks Lodge, 326 Third St., Raymond. 
  • March 25 – Puget Sound commercial fisheries discussion, 10 a.m.-noon, WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek. 
  • March 25 – Puget Sound recreational fisheries discussion, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek. 
  • March 30 – Final Grays Harbor/Willapa Bay fisheries discussion, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia. 
  • April 6 – Second North of Falcon meeting, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Embassy Suites Hotel, 20610 44th Ave. West, Lynnwood.

The PFMC is expected to adopt the final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 10-15 meeting in Portland, Oregon. The 2010 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters will be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.
Preseason salmon forecasts, proposed fishing options and details on upcoming meetings will be posted as they become available on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at

600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

March 02, 2010
Contact: Pat Pattillo, (360) 902-2705

Record Steelhead Return Continues, Big Increase In Wild Spring Chinook Expected

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Photos courtesy of Flickr & Cor23
The record 2009 summer steelhead return to Idaho and northeast Oregon streams has continued unabated into a new year that also may see the biggest upriver spring chinook salmon run in modern times.


“We’ve had a record harvest (more than 50,000 steelhead) and a record number of angler days,” Ed Schriever of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council Wednesday. Schriever, chief of the IDFG’s Fish Division, and Bill Tweit of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Tuesday in Portland briefed the Council about 2009 salmon and steelhead returns to the Columbia-Snake river basin and the high expectations for some 2010 returns.


The steelhead record is still building. Schriever noted that steelhead continue to pass up and over Lower Granite Dam, the last of eight hydro projects that the fish swim towards tributary spawning grounds and hatcheries. During the first week of March counts at the dam ranged from 46 to 213. The IDFG’s steelhead “year” runs from April 1 through March 31.


A total of 312,430 summer steelhead were counted at Lower Granite Dam between April 1 and the end of 2009. That number was double the 10-year average and easily broke the modern-day record — 268,466 fish counted in 2001-2002. And the counting goes on. During the previous 8 years from 8,000 to 16,000 steelhead annually have passed Lower Granite between Jan. 1 and April 1 according IDFG estimates.


All Idaho steelhead, and those bound for Oregon tributaries to the Snake above Lower Granite, are summer steelhead, which means they leave the ocean in the late summer. The bulk of these fish arrive in Idaho by early fall. They will then spend the winter in the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers in Idaho and Imnaha and Grande Ronde in Oregon, and spawn the following spring.


Fish managers have broadly grouped the upriver summer steelhead into two types, A-run, and B- run. A-run steelhead, which return to tributaries throughout the Columbia and Snake basins typically spend one year in the ocean, returning as 5- to 10-pound adults. B-run fish originate primarily from Idaho’s Clearwater River, and typically spend two to three years in the ocean, returning as 10 to 20 pound adults.


A-run fish made up the vast majority of the 2009-2010 Snake River summer steelhead return. Estimates are that the B-run numbers would be about half of the previous 10-year’s average of 30,000 fish.


By late December, steelhead are distributed throughout the central Idaho region in the Clearwater from Lewiston upstream to Kooskia, the Snake upstream to Hell’s Canyon Dam, and throughout the Salmon River. The fish can also be found in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha river basins in Oregon.


During the week ending March 7 Idaho anglers caught and kept 472 steelhead and caught and released 740.


And steelhead fishing continues to be good in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha basins. Catch rates (hours per steelhead landed) in last week’s creel surveys were 6.8 for the lower Grande Ronde, 7.7 for the Wallowa River Canyon, 2.1 for the Rondowa area, and 1.3 for the Imnaha River, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.


Steelhead angling conditions will depend on weather and flow conditions and anglers should check river flows.


The bag limit on the lower Grande Ronde, Wallowa, and Imnaha Rivers and Big Sheep Creek in Oregon is five adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day. Anglers are encouraged to keep adipose fin-clipped hatchery steelhead that they catch and take advantage of the expanded bag limit.


Likewise the daily bag limit in Idaho was raised because of the season’s very large A-run (with the stipulation that only three can be greater than 32 inches in length) on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The reason for the 32-inch rule is that most B-run steelhead are longer than 32 inches.


On the Clearwater, the limit will remained unchanged at three per day for the spring season which began Jan. 1. The statewide season limit has also been raised to 40 fish for the fall 2009 season, with the stipulation that only 20 of those fish can come from the Clearwater.


A forecast for the 2010-2011 upriver summer steelhead return has not yet been completed.


Another 2009 record breaker was a Lower Granite count of 1,219 Snake River sockeye salmon. That bettered a total of 909 in 2008, which improved on the 257-fish total in 2000 which had been the biggest since the counts at the dam began in 1975. Over the 14 years prior to 2000, a total of just 77 natural-origin sockeye returned.


The Snake River sockeye were listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered in 1991. The Snake River Sockeye Salmon Captive Broodstock Program was initiated just before the listing in 1991 to conserve and rebuild the Redfish Lake sockeye salmon stock in the Sawtooth Valley of central Idaho. Most of the returns now have their origins in the program.


The IDFG is expecting another bumper crop of sockeye this year, Schriever told the Council. Its estimate is for a return of from 700 to 1,100 adult fish.


The record breaker this year is expected to the upriver spring chinook salmon stock, which has as its largest component the Snake River spring/summer chinook.


The overall upriver spring chinook prediction is for a return of 470,000 adult fish to the mouth of the Columbia River, according to U.S. v Oregon’s Technical Advisory Committee, which is made up of federal, state and tribal fishery officials. Last year the forecast was for a return of 298,900; the actual return was 169,300.


TAC expects the Upper Columbia spring chinook stock, which is part of the upriver run, to number 57,300 adults this year, including 5,700 that were born in the wild. The Upper Columbia forecast in 2009 was for a return of 23,1000 adults, including 2,700 wild fish. The actual return was 17,400, including 1,800 wild.


TAC predicts that the Snake River component of this year’s run could total 272,000, including 73,400 spawners of natural origin, again as counted at the Columbia mouth. Last year the forecast was for a return of 179,200 adult fish, include 29,700 wild chinook. The actual return was 92,000, including 20,300 wild fish.


This year the IDFG is predicting that as many as 179,000 Snake River spring/summer chinook spawners, including 28,500 wild fish, will make it as far upstream as Lower Granite.


“We are holding our breath,” Schriever said of the excitement at the prospect of a large spring run. “179,000 across Granite would be a record. That’s a very robust return.”


The 2010 return of salmon and steelhead to the Columbia and Snake river basins could total 2.2 million for the second consecutive year, Tweit said. Such a total would have been unheard of during the 1990s but during the most recent decade various populations have experienced growth spurts stemming from freshwater survival improvements that have been gained and, in spurts, positive growing conditions in the Pacific Ocean.


In addition to the expected record spring chinook run, forecasts are for strong summer chinook, sockeye and fall chinook runs and “average” upriver steelhead and coho runs in 2010.


More than 1 million coho returned last year but only 390,000 are expected this year.


“They are the first indicator” of a shift in ocean productivity, Tweit said of the coho, which, for the most part spend only one year in the ocean. Ocean conditions took a turn for the worse last year.


The most recent decade has shown greatly improved numbers over the 1990s, Schriever said. For Snake River spring/summer chinook, Lower Granite counts averaged 6,000 wild spawners and 10,000 hatchery returns from 1990-1999. Those numbers jumped to 19,000 wild and 52,000 hatchery fish from 2000 through 2009.


The steelhead counts climbed form 10,700 wild and 67,000 hatchery returns on average annually from 1990 through 1999 to 26,200 wild and 161,000 hatchery returns on average during the most recent 10-year period. For fall chinook counts rose from 1,300 annually to 11,000 and for sockeye the average went from 10-fish per year in 1990-1999 to 273 in 2000-2009.