Spokane, WA Weather

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WDFW Weekender Report Nov. 2011 Fishing

WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
600 Capitol Way NorthOlympiaWashington 98501-1091
Internet Address: http://wdfw.wa.gov
November 2011                                                                       Contact:  (Fish) 360-902-2700
                                                                                                                (Wildlife) 360-902-2515 

 For anglers, Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of winter steelhead fishing in western Washington, where anglers can also reel in coho and chum salmon moving in from the ocean. On the eastside, fly fishers are flocking to a hot catch-and-release steelhead fishery on the Grand Ronde River, where anglers can retain up to three marked hatchery fish per day on the lower river starting Nov. 1.

North Puget Sound


Fishing: Anglers are still finding coho in the region’s rivers, but most of the action will shift to steelhead in the coming weeks. On Puget Sound, the late-season crab fishery is under way, and more marine areas are scheduled to open for chinook.

Beginning Nov. 1, marine areas 8-1 (Deception PassHope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) open for chinook salmon fishing. Anglers fishing those marine areas, as well as Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton Area), have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook salmon.

Anglers are reminded that Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islandscloses to salmon retention Nov. 1.

Saltwater anglers have been reeling in chum salmon as October comes to a close. Salmon anglers may want to try fishing waters around Point No Point (north end of the Kitsap Peninsula) and Possession Bar (southern portion of Whidbey Island) – two areas of Marine Area 9 that are often hotspots for chum salmon in early November. 

Before heading out, anglers can check creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound. Recreational fishery samplers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) collect the information each week at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound.

While on the Sound, why not drop a crab pot? Sport crabbing reopened in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7, 8-1, 8-2, and a portion of Marine Area 9 north of a line that extends from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) will reopen for sport crabbing at 8 a.m. on Nov. 21.

In each area, crabbing is allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. 

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 10, 12 (Hood Canal) and the portion of marine area 9 south of line that extends from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff. The annual quotas in those areas were reached during the summer fishery, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy coordinator for WDFW.

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. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website

All crab caught in the late-season fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards are available at license vendors across the state. Those catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2012. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s catch record card webpage.

Meanwhile, several rivers are open in November for salmon fishing, including the Nooksack, Skagit, Cascade, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Wallace, Snoqualmie and Green.

Some of those rivers – the Skagit, Snohomish and Green – are also good spots for winter steelhead fishing, said Bob Leland, WDFW’s steelhead program manager. “Anglers can certainly find some steelhead early in the month, but around Thanksgiving is when fishing usually starts to improve,” he said.

Because regulations vary for each river, anglers should check WDFW’s sportfishing regulations pamphlet before heading out.

For trout anglers, Beaver Lake near Issaquah could be the best place to cast for rainbows in November. About 2,300 hatchery rainbows – averaging 2 to 3 pounds each – are scheduled to be released into the lake Nov. 8. To facilitate fish planting, WDFW will close the Beaver Lake access site at sunset on Nov. 7 and reopen the site at sunrise on Nov. 9. Beaver Lake, however, will remain open to fishing while the access site is closed. Beaver Lake, which is one of several westside lowland lakes open to fishing year-round, is best fished by small boat, although anglers also can be successful fishing from shore.

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Anglers fishing for salmon often turn their attention to blackmouth and chum in November. But shellfish really take center stage as more areas of Puget Sound re-open for sport crabbing and the razor clam season gets under way on coastal beaches.

October wraps up with a razor clam dig at Long BeachTwin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. More on that opening, scheduled Oct. 28-29, is available at WDFW’s razor clam website.

Early in November, WDFW will proceed with another evening razor clam dig at Long BeachTwin Harbors and Mocrocks. Opening dates and evening low tides are:

  • Nov. 11, Fri. – 6:48 p.m., (-0.4 ft.); Long BeachTwin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Nov. 12, Sat. – 7:23 p.m. (-0.4 ft.); Long BeachTwin Harbors, Mocrocks

Later in the month, razor clammers will have another opportunity. Opening dates and evening low tides for that dig are:
  • Nov. 25, Fri. – 6:27 p.m. (-1.9 ft.); Long BeachTwin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Nov. 26, Sat. – 7:14 p.m. (-1.8 ft.); Long BeachTwin Harbors, Mocrocks
Clam diggers should plan to take lights or lanterns for the nighttime digs and to check weather and surf forecasts before heading out. No digging will be allowed before noon on any of the razor-clam beaches. Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2011-12 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website and from license vendors around the state. More razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled Dec. 10 and Dec. 22-23.

Rather catch crabSport crabbing reopened in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7, 8-1, 8-2, and a portion of Marine Area 9 north of a line that extends from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) will reopen for sport crabbing at 8 a.m. on Nov. 21.  

In each area, crabbing is allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 10, 12 (Hood Canal) and the portion of marine area 9 south of line that extends from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff. The annual quotas in those areas were reached during the summer fishery, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy coordinator for the department.

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. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website

All crab caught in the late-season fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards are available at license vendors across the state. Those catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2012. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s catch record card webpage.

Anglers on the Sound can also pursue blackmouth – resident chinook. Beginning Nov. 1, anglers fishing marine areas 5 (Sekiu), 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) can keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. However, salmon fishing in Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) is only open through Oct. 31.

Elsewhere, anglers fishing Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) have a daily limit of four salmon, but only one of those fish can be a chinook.

Before heading out, anglers can check creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound. Recreational fishery samplers with WDFW’s sampling program collect the information each week at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound.

November is when the action heats up in the region for chum salmon. Popular fishing spots include the Hoodsport Hatchery area of Hood Canal and the mouth of Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet. Other areas where anglers can find chum salmon include the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers in Jefferson County and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap Counties. Those three rivers open for salmon fishing Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, salmon fisheries remain open through Nov. 30 on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Clearwater, Dickey, Hoh and Sol Duc rivers. Also open for salmon fishing through November are the Elk, Hoquiam and Johns rivers in Grays Harbor County; and the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County. In Mason County, the Skokomish River is open for salmon fishing through Dec. 15.

Winter steelhead fisheries get under way in November on several rivers, including the Bogachiel, Calawah, Hoh, Quillayute and Sol Duc. Beginning Nov. 1, anglers fishing those rivers have a daily limit of three hatchery steelhead. “Anglers can certainly find some steelhead early in the month, but around Thanksgiving is when fishing usually starts to improve,” said Bob Leland, WDFW’s steelhead program manager. 

Grays Harbor-area rivers, such as the Satsop, Wynoochee and Humptulips, also are good bets for anglers once steelhead start to arrive, said Leland.

Because regulations vary for each river, anglers should check WDFW’s sportfishing regulations pamphlet before heading out.

Southwest Washington

Fishing:  Thanksgiving Day traditionally marks the start of the popular winter steelhead fishery, although some anglers will undoubtedly start working their favorite rivers well ahead of time. The first two steelies of the season arrived at the Cowlitz Hatchery during the third week of October and lots more are right on their tails.

Catch totals will take off once the first big storm of the season has soaked the region with heavy rains, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Steelhead move upriver on pulses of water,” Hymer said. “Once the sky opens up and the rivers start to swell, we’ll see more fish on the move.”

Major destinations for hatchery-reared steelhead include the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis (east and north forks), Washougal, Elochoman and Grays rivers, along with Salmon Creek in ClarkCounty, he said. Other waters opening for steelhead fishing Nov. 1 are Abernathy, Coal and Germany creeks, the Coweeman River and Cedar Creek in Clark County and Mill Creek in Cowlitz County.

Only hatchery-reared steelhead, which have a clipped adipose fin, may be retained in regional waters.  All wild, unmarked fish must be released unharmed.

Anglers planning a trip should be aware that the White Salmon River is closed to all fishing until further notice. Designed as a safety measure, the closure took effect Oct. 25 – one day before Condit Dam was breached using explosives. 

Pat Frazier, WDFW regional fish manager, said the rush of water pouring through the 125-foot dam is expected to destabilize the river banks, and deposit large amounts of sediment and dangerous debris in the river channel.  Frazier said the fishing closure will remain in effect until WDFW can assess the conditions and ensure public safety.

Condit Dam, a 98-year-old structure owned by PacifiCorp, is located on the White Salmon River about three miles from its confluence with the Columbia River. Breaching the dam is expected to open up 14 miles of habitat for chinook salmon and 33 miles of habitat for steelhead.

On other rivers, late-run coho salmon may be the best target for anglers who want to catch fish. Although the coho run has peaked, those fish should generate some action on the mainstem Columbia and many of its tributaries right through November, Hymer said.

“These are fairly large fish, some weighing up to 20 pounds apiece,” he said. “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, as well as the lower portion of the Grays River.  Several rivers also remain open for chinook salmon, although some close Nov. 1.

Effective that day, the No. 5 fishway on the Klickitat River closes upstream to chinook fishing, the Wind River closes to all salmon fishing as does the stretch of the Columbia River from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam.

However, like last year, the lower Grays River and the West Fork – including the area around the hatchery – will be open for salmon through Dec. 31. Steelhead fishing will continue in those waters through mid-March.

For all these waters, anglers should check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for specific rules affecting fisheries. In addition, WDFW’s Hatchery Escapement Reports can provide a good indication of the number of fish returning to each river.

Caught your fill of salmon and steelhead for the year?  Here are some other options to consider:

·         Razor clams: Four beaches – Long BeachTwin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks – will open to razor clam digging on evening tides on Friday, Nov. 25. Three of those beaches – Long BeachTwin Harbors and Mocrocks – will remain open to digging Saturday, Nov. 26. No digging will be allowed any day before noon. For more information, see WDFW’s Razor Clam Webpage.

  • Sturgeon:  Anglers are still reeling in legal-size sturgeon above the Wauna powerlines on the lower Columbia River. Bank angling has been consistent near Longview and below Bonneville Dam, while boat anglers have done best between Camas and Kalama. The fishery is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through the end of the year or until the quota is met.

  • Cowlitz cutthroats: October is prime time to catch sea-run cutthroat trout on the CowlitzRiver, but the fish usually keep biting through November. The best fishing is from Blue Creek near the trout hatchery on downriver. Anglers may retain up to five hatchery-reared cutthroats per day as part of the daily trout limit on the lower Cowlitz River, where the fish generally range from 12 to 20 inches.
Eastern Washington

Fishing: Steelhead fishing has been excellent on the Grande Ronde River, a tributary of the Snake River in the region and state’s southeast corner.

“Many people from all over the state and from out of state are on our Chief Joseph Wildlife Area fishing the Ronde,” reported WDFW Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex Manager Bob Dice. “Fly fishing for steelhead has been extremely popular there.”

Dice reminds anglers that the lower portion of the Grande Ronde, about two-and-a-half miles from the mouth to the County Road bridge, is under selective gear rules (artificial flies or lures with single-point barbless hooks) and all steelhead must be released year-round.  The upper portion of the Grande Ronde, from the County Road bridge to the Oregon state line, opens Nov. 1 to daily retention of up to three hatchery-marked steelhead.

Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said another productive fishing spot has been the Heller Bar area of the mainstem Snake River, just below the mouth of the Grande Ronde.
Snake River steelhead and fall chinook salmon fishing overall remains slow, although the month of November often marks the start of more action with cooler air and water temperatures, Mendel said. He also noted that anglers will see new state boundary signs on the Snake at its confluence with the Clearwater River on the Idaho border, thanks to a cooperative effort with Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The signs on the north shore of the Snake where it bends to the west in Washington should help clarify where either state’s fishing license is valid.

Latest creel surveys on Snake River drainage steelhead show the best catch rates are in the Tucannon River (average of six hours of angling effort per hatchery steelhead kept), Snake mainstem upstream of interstate bridge at Clarkston (nine hours per kept steelhead), and Snake mainstem from Lower Granite Dam to interstate bridge (about 10 hours per fish.) Walla Walla River steelheading saw an average of 15 hours of effort per hatchery steelhead kept.  Fall Chinook fishing has been very slow.

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman reminds anglers that the Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten close to fishing Oct. 31.

Many of the region’s other top-producing trout fishing lakes are also closed by November. But there are a couple of exceptions and several year-round-open waters worth trying.

Southwest Spokane County’s Amber Lake remains open through the end of November for catch-and-release, selective gear fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Waitts Lake in Stevens County is open through February and provides fishing rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.

Big net-pen-reared rainbow trout and some kokanee are available at year-round-open Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam. Big rainbows continue to provide action at Sprague Lake, the year-round waterway that sprawls across the Lincoln-Adams county line just south of Interstate 90.

Rock Lake in Whitman County, open year-round, is still producing catches of rainbow and brown trout, along with some largemouth bass.
  
Trout, bass, perch, crappie, and others species are available at Spokane County’s year-round-open Eloika, Newman and Silver lakes.  Newman Lake’s public access site boat ramp should be completely repaired and useable by Nov. 1.

 Northcentral Washington

Fishing:  Anglers can catch and keep hatchery steelhead on the Similkameen River starting Nov. 1, a day after the special fishery for coho salmon closes on the Methow, Wenatchee and Icicle rivers. A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in any of these fisheries.

Meanwhile, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff reports that a few lowland rainbow trout lakes are still open for catch-and-release trout fishing through the month of November, specifically Big and Little Green lakes near Omak, and Rat Lake near Brewster. Selective gear rules are in effect for these three lakes.

Anglers interested in catching yellow perch could try Patterson Lake near Winthrop,  Jateff said. “Expect average size on these perch to be seven to eight inches,” he said.  “There’s no daily limit and no minimum size. We encouraged anglers to retain all perch caught regardless of size.”

Several year-round waters in the region can provide decent fishing opportunity in November. Banks Lake has a little bit of everything – smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, walleye, kokanee, even lake whitefish. Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir have most of those species, plus net-pen-reared rainbow trout.

Southcentral Washington

Fishing:  A recent photo in the Yakima Herald-Republic showed an angler hip deep in the upper Naches River near Cliffdell against a backdrop of fall color, capturing the spirit of the season. 

“It’s a great time of the year to be out on the water,” said John Easterbrooks, south-central regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The scenery’s great and the fishing for wild rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout can be fantastic.”

Easterbrooks has been advising anglers who want that experience to act soon, because  most area rivers and streams close to fishing at the end of the day Oct. 31. Examples include the Naches, Little Naches, and Bumping rivers and the section of the Yakima River below Roza Dam in Yakima County. Taneum, Naneum, and Manastash creeks in Kittitas County also close to fishing that day.

Oct. 31 is also the last day of the extended salmon season in the Hanford Reach, where anglers have caught a record catch of more than 10,000 adult fall chinook and over 2,500 jacks.  Anglers were still averaging 1.7 chinook per boat through the middle of the month.

That leaves hatchery steelhead, usually the main attraction in November. The season opened Sept. 16 – two weeks earlier than usual – but anglers have been working hard for their fish ever since, said WDFW fish biologist Paul Hoffarth at WDFW’s Dist. 4 office in Pasco.

“Steelhead fishing has been unusually slow at a time when it should be ramping up,” Hoffarth said. “We’ve been seeing 20 anglers come in with one fish among them.”

This year’s forecast is below the 10-year average, but that does not fully account for the low number of hatchery steelhead in angler’s creels in the Reach, Hoffarth said. Like last year, creel surveys and fish counts at the Ringold Springs Rearing Facility indicate a dearth of one-salt fish returning from the ocean for the first time. 

Although counts of two-salt fish are generally on track, one-salt fish generally make up three-quarters of the catch, Hoffarth said. “I hope I’m wrong, but it looks like we could be in for another tough month of steelhead fishing in this area.”

Anglers can retain two marked hatchery steelhead from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco to the wooden powerline towers at the Old Hanford townsite. Hatchery steelhead can be identified by a clipped adipose fin and/or a ventral fin clip. All unmarked steelhead must be released unharmed.

For more information about fishing seasons and regulations in the region, see the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet.




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