Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Washington DFW Weekender Report

Start of fishing season for lake trout
one of many ‘opening days’ in April

For many anglers, "opening day" is synonymous with the start of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which gets under way April 28 this year. More than 300,000 Washingtonians are expected to descend on trout-stocked waters throughout the state that Saturday to kick off the new season.

But anglers - and hunters, too - are also looking forward to a variety of other "opening days" this month, as seasons ranging from lingcod fishing on the north coast to a statewide turkey hunt get under way. A morning razor clam dig has been tentatively scheduled on ocean beaches April 7-9, pending the results of marine toxin tests.

"April really marks the start of the new year for fishing and hunting," said Joe Stohr, deputy director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "Some winter fisheries are still going strong, but the annual cycle is beginning again with a new year of outdoor activities."

For most people, a valid 2012-13 fishing or hunting license will be required to get in on the action after March 31, when all 2011-12 licenses expire. The exception is young people under age 15, who may fish for free.

Licenses and permits are avaiIable online ( ), by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state. A list of license vendors ( ) is available online and from local WDFW offices around the state.

Key dates for anglers and hunters to keep in mind in April include:

  • April 7-8 - A two-day spring turkey hunt for hunters age 15 and younger is scheduled statewide.
  • April 7-9 - A morning razor-clam dig has been tentatively scheduled at several ocean beaches, pending the results of marine toxin tests. For details, see WDFW’s razor clam webpage at .
  • April 15 - The general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31. See WDFW's Washington Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet at for more information.
  • April 16 - Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) opens for lingcod.
  • April 28 - Several hundred lowland lakes open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest "opening day" of the year.

For more information about these and other outdoor activities coming up in the weeks ahead, see the region-by-region Weekender Reports on WDFW’s website at . These reports are updated throughout the month for changes in fishing rules and other developments throughout the state.

Oregon DFW Weekly Report

March 27, 2012
Your ODFW Fishing Reports
In the past year, we have received ODFW Fishing Reports from all over the state – thank you and please keep them coming! Our biologists use the information from your fishing reports to update ODFW resources like the Weekly Recreation Report.

Apply for a 2012 controlled hunt by April 15
You could win a 2013 Sports Pac by applying early.
Wild Turkey
- National Wild Turkey Federation-
Youth spring turkey season is April 7-9, 2012
The season dates are wrong in the 2011-12 Oregon Game Bird Regulations. Hunters 17 and under can hunt Saturday, Sunday and Monday this year.
Sign up for hunter education online
See how. Need something to occupy your time over Spring Break? Take the online or independent study course but don’t forget to schedule a field day asap.
Big game raffle tickets on sale thru May 7
Just $4.50 could get you (or a friend or family member) the chance to hunt deer for three months. Elk, combo deer/elk, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mtn goat and pronghorn antelope tickets also available. Buy a raffle ticket online or fax or mail this application.

2011 Spring Turkey Hunt

Opening day in Washington was not quite our typical opener that we were used to seeing. Their was four of us hunting this morning, Jim Haeckel, Jim Schill, my son Brennan and myself. We woke up to freezing temperatures a with a light snow falling. The wind was blowing slightly which made it that much colder. Having slepted very little the night before due to the Christmas(turkey) morning insomnia, we headed out, stopping first for coffee and an energy drink for my son Brennan. Tweny minutes later we arrived at our destination.
Getting our vests on and loading all our blinds,guns,decoys,chairs,camera gear and backpacks on our backs we headed out. The two Jims one way and Brennan and I in another. It was a short walk for us of maybe 200 yards and we opened up our blind and began setting everything up. It was about 4:30 and the official hunting hours began at 5:31. We located ourselves about 50 yards inside the edge of a large pasture in newly thinned ponderosa pine timber. We had watched several toms on our scouting trips fly down from their roosts and walk the cat trail thru the timber which should have placed them within 25 to 30 yards from where we set up. At about 5:30 the hills behind us began to awaken, beginning first with a few hen yelps and then with the gobblers sounding off along the entire ridgeline behind us. In both directions east and west of us for about a half a mile the toms were gobbling and the hens were yelping. This went on for about 15 minutes and then they started flying down.
Like the flying monkeys scene from The Wizard of Oz, the turkeys flew down. The adrenaline was pumping as if we were hooked up to an IV. They were landing mostly in the meadows and the toms immediately began to strut their stuff. Gobbling and strutting and trying to impress the hens. Then four toms flew down and landed about 100 yards down from us and began walking the cat trail towards us. Strutting and gobbling as they moved closer. It didnt take them long to get along side of where we were set. Brennan was loaded and ready, I had the video camera rolling. As they got within range and with Brennan ready to shoot, the toms walked in front of a dense section of timber and brush. The early morning light that we had on the clear days scouting was not to be had on this dark wet day in the timber today. The toms that we had scouted just days before walked by the blind about 25 yards away and with only fleeting glimpes of the them as they walked past the openings of some of the trees. Whenever they would stop to gobble or strut, the brush or trees behind them made them disappear in the darkness and offered no visible shot. With no clear shot Brennan reluctantly passed on squeezing the trigger, a difficult decision but the right one. I know some hunters would have shot anyway with the hope of hitting one, it isn't easy to pass on such a situation but its down to basics, Be Sure of Your Target. Even after reviewing the footage on the video it was clear he had made the right decision. No clear shot. Another lesson learned when hunting in turkeys in the timber, make sure its the right spot in sunny or overcast days as well and take into consideration the shooting lanes that are available at these changing conditions.
The turkeys remained in the fields strutting most of the morning and no amount of calling would detour them from the hens in the fields. After watching them for a couple hours we decided to do some hunting up on the ridges where we knew some of these turkeys would go. An hour later we saw 3 toms strutting on the top of a game trail. We set up next to the trail about 80 yards from them and after a few soft yelps they started our way, they would strut down about 10 yards and strut back up to the top of the trail. This went on for 10 minutes and eventually they strutted over the top and out of sight. We decided to hurry up to the top where they went and see if they were in range when we got there. Boy were they in range, about 15 turkeys, most of them toms, were right there, maybe 10 to 15 yards away. Brennan picked one out that was strutting, then another and another, they had seen us and were all bobbing and weaving, he picked one, shot, the flock flushed and exploded in every direction and were gone down the hill and through the timber. Missed. After it all settled down and after he stopped kicking himself in the butt for missing we realized just how much fun it was anyway! Thats what we're here for! I was wondering if we should have switched the choke tubes back out to modified for opening day turkeys. The extra full turkey choke he had in his Benelli works well on many occassions but for close up shots, they're not very forgiving, especially on super close range gobblers and young hunters out hunting for their first gobbler :)
Well, we're headed back out again, I'll keep you posted on how it works out. Hopefully we'll won't have too many more hard lessons to learn. He's excited to get his first turkey and I'm pretty sure he will. One thing about turkey hunting, you're never too old to learn something new!
Good luck hunting! Send me your stories! Rich

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Oregon Draft Black Bear Mgmt. Plan

Draft Black Bear Management Plan available for public review
March 27, 2012
SALEM, Ore.—An updated plan to manage Oregon’s 25,000-30,000 estimated black
 bears is available for review online
Public comments related to the draft update of the Oregon Black Bear Management Plan
  will be taken through the June 7-8, 2012 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Salem,
 when final action may be taken on the plan. However, comments received by April 13 will
be reviewed and summarized for the Commission by their April 20 meeting in Salem, when
 ODFW staff will brief commissioners on the plan. A revised draft plan will be available in
Send comments to, mail to ODFW Wildlife Division, 3406
 Cherry Ave NE, Salem OR 97303 or fax to (503) 947-6330.
The draft plan was written by ODFW wildlife biologists, with input from stakeholders.
A Black Bear Management Plan was last adopted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission
 in 1993. Since that time, the overall population size of black bears has been stable to increasing. Oregon’s black bear population was estimated to be 9,000 in the early 1930s but had grown to an estimated 25,000 by the 1990s.
The Draft Plan outlines four main objectives: Maintaining a healthy bear population in balance
with other wildlife, reducing the number of human-bear conflicts that result in lethal removal or relocation of bears, developing and refining population modeling techniques, and using applied research to improve the understanding of black bear management and ecology.
The updated draft plan includes new information and changes in bear management since the
previous plan was adopted in 1993. For example, in 1994, Oregon voters passed Measure 18,
which prohibits sport hunters from hunting black bears or cougars with the use of hounds or bait.
Population modeling techniques have also changed since the 1990s. ODFW uses a variety of
methods to monitor black bear populations. The department closely tracks the number, sex, and
age of bears killed and also uses data from a radio-collaring study. Since 2005, ODFW has been
using a tetracycline mark-recapture method to develop a better estimate of the population.
Some other facts about black bears and black bear management in Oregon:
  • Black bear densities are highest in the Coast, Cascade, and Blue Mountains, and lowest
  • in the arid southeast region.
  • Black bears can vary in color from light brown to black.
  • Most human-bear problems occur when bears are being fed by people. The 2011 Oregon
  • State Legislature passed a bill that prohibits (in most instances) knowingly placing food, garbage or other attractants for black bears and certain other wildlife species.
  • There has never been a fatal bear attack in Oregon. Only four human-bear interactions
  • that resulted in injury have been documented by ODFW. They involved hunters, bears
  • attracted to homes due to accessible garbage cans or birdseed, or dogs which agitated bears.
For more information on black bears in Oregon, visit the Living with Bears page

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oregon DFW Recreation Report

Hunting, Fishing, Wildlife Viewing
March 20, 2012

Your ODFW Fishing Reports

In the past year, we have received ODFW Fishing Reports from all over the state – thank you and please keep them coming! Our biologists use the information from your fishing reports to update ODFW resources like the Weekly Recreation Report.
Best bets for spring break fishing
Several water bodies have been stocked with trout just in time for the spring break. Check out the trout stocking schedules or Zone updates for locations. Winter steelhead anglers should keep an eye on water conditions, and be ready to hit the water when conditions are right.
Spring break wildlife viewing

Visit the ODFW Wildlife Viewing Map to learn where to see wildlife while you are out and about this spring. The Google-based map is available via the ODFW website and details 235 great places to see wildlife in the state, so there is sure to be a good site near you wherever you are.
Apply for a 2012 controlled hunt by April 15

You could win a 2013 Sports Pac by applying early.
Youth spring turkey season is April 7-9, 2012

The season dates are wrong in the 2011-12 Oregon Game Bird Regulations. Hunters 17 and under can hunt Saturday, Sunday and Monday this year.
Sign up for hunter education online

See how. Need something to occupy your time over Spring Break? Take the online or independent study course but don’t forget to schedule a field day asap.
Big game raffle tickets on sale thru May 7

Just $4.50 could get you (or a friend or family member) the chance to hunt deer for three months. Elk, combo deer/elk, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mtn goat and pronghorn antelope tickets also available. Buy a raffle ticket online or fax or mail this application.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trout planted in several lakes
for fishing during spring break

OLYMPIA - Rainbow trout are being planted in lakes in Grays Harbor, Thurston, Pierce, Mason and Kitsap counties to offer spring-break fishing opportunities, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Stocking the lakes this month with "catchable" size trout gives students and others an opportunity to hook some nice-size fish during local schools’ spring vacations, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW.

"We are stocking these lakes with thousands of fish, so fishing should be pretty good over the next several weeks," Warren said.

Lakes planted with trout include:

  • Grays Harbor County: Lake Sylvia, Duck Lake, and Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #1 will each receive 1,000 catchable-size rainbows. Each of the lakes also will be planted with several hundred larger trout - averaging 3 to 4 pounds each - that were reared under a cooperative project with the Chehalis Basin Task Force.
    Duck Lake and Lake Sylvia are open to all anglers year-round, while Vance Creek Pond #1 will be open from March 31 to April 8 for anglers under 15 years old, seniors 70 years of age and older, and anglers with a disability who have a WDFW reduced-fee license or a designated harvester card. Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #1 will re-open April 28, the opening day of lowland lake fishing.
  • Thurston and Pierce counties: Long’s Pond in Thurston County will receive 4,000 rainbows measuring 10 to 11 inches in length and 100 larger trout measuring 14 to 16 inches. Bradley Lake in Pierce County will receive 2,500 rainbow trout measuring 10 to 11 inches in length. Wapato Lake in Pierce County will receive 4,000 rainbow trout measuring 10 to 11 inches.
    Only juvenile anglers under 15 years of age can fish at Long’s Pond and Wapato Lake, both of which are open year-round. Bradley Lake is also open year-round, but from May 15 through June 10 the lake is only open to anglers under 15 years of age.
  • Mason and Kitsap counties: A number of lakes in Mason and Kitsap counties will begin receiving spring jumbos provided in partnership with Tacoma Power. Nahwatzel Lake will receive 5,360 jumbo rainbows and Kokanee Lake will receive 4,000 jumbo rainbows measuring 11 to 13 inches in length. Spencer Lake will receive 5,000 rainbows measuring 10 to 11 inches and 500 cutthroat trout weighing about one pound each. Kitsap Lake in Kitsap County will receive 4,760 rainbows measuring 11 to 13 inches to extend the quality winter rainbow trout fishery into early spring. These lakes are open year-round to all anglers.

For fishing regulations at each lake, check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet on WDFW’s website at . Information on when and where fish are stocked in area lakes is available at .

All anglers 15 years of age and older are required to have a valid fishing license. Anglers are reminded that fishing licenses are valid from April 1 through March 31 each year. Licenses can be purchased on the Internet ( ), by telephone (1-866-246-9453), or at hundreds of license dealers across the state (listed on the WDFW’s website at ).

Washington Opens Wenatchee, Icicle, Methow Rivers for Hatchery Steelhead

OLYMPIA - Starting Friday (March 16), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will reopen selective fisheries for hatchery-reared steelhead on the Wenatchee, Icicle, and Methow rivers on a short-term basis.

Anglers will be allowed to catch whitefish in the Wenatchee and Methow rivers so long as those rivers are open to steelhead fishing.

Steelhead fisheries in all three rivers are tentatively scheduled to run through March 31, but could end sooner if fishing impacts on wild steelhead reach annual federal limits, said Jeff Korth, regional WDFW fish manager.

"These limited openings are designed to support wild-steelhead recovery by reducing the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds," Korth said. "Anglers can play an important role in that effort by removing hatchery fish not needed to meet spawning goals."

Because the fisheries could close on short notice, Korth recommends that anglers check the department’s Fishing Hotline at (360-902-2500) or Fishing Rule website ( ) for updates.

The Similkameen and Okanogan rivers will remain open for steelhead fishing, although sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket creeks will close to all fishing March 16 to protect wild steelhead staging for spawning.

The daily limit on all rivers open to fishing is two hatchery steelhead, marked with a clipped adipose fin and measuring at least 20 inches in length. Anglers must retain any legal hatchery steelhead they catch until they reach their daily limit of two fish. At that point, they must stop fishing for steelhead.

Any steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water.

Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open. All anglers are required to follow selective gear rules and restrictions described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet, available online at .

Areas that will be open to fishing for hatchery steelhead on March 16 include:

  • Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to a point 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. Motorized vessels are not allowed.
  • Methow River: From the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing to the first Highway 153 Bridge. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
  • Okanogan River: From the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. All fishing is closed from the first powerline crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket Bridge (Fourth Street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.
  • Similkameen River: From the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Areas that will open to fishing for whitefish on March 16 include:

  • Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Highway 2 bridge at Leavenworth.
  • Methow River: From Gold Creek to the falls above Brush Creek.

To participate in these fisheries, anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries.

The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rocky Mt. Elk Foundation Fights Wolf Delisting

Ninth Circuit Court Upholds
Congressional Wolf Delisting

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed the constitutionality of Congress’ removal of wolves from the federal endangered species list.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation applauded the decision.

Attorneys representing RMEF and other conservation groups had presented oral arguments supporting the Congressional action, wolf delisting and science-based, state-regulated management and control of wolf populations.

“This is a huge win for real wildlife management in the U.S.,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We’re thrilled with the favorable ruling because it upholds the law as well as science and common sense. This decision helps clear the way for continued work by true conservationists to balance wolf populations with other wildlife and human needs.”

Allen suspects the plaintiffs will appeal their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said, “I’m hopeful that a Congressional act, multiple courtroom defeats and an American public that is clearly tired of this legal wrangling will encourage our opponents to give up and cede responsible wolf management to conservation professionals in each state. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

RMEF continues to fight wolf lawsuits and support delisting legislation at both federal and state levels.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Big game raffle tickets on sale until May 7: 2011 winner bagged trophy elk for under $50 in tickets

March 8, 2012

Hagg Lake
Chad Thompson of Elgin with the trophy elk he took on Wenaha Wildlife Area after winning the Northeast Oregon Elk raffle ticket. The elk green scored over 400.
(click to enlarge)

SALEM, Ore. — Elgin resident Chad Thompson bought just 15 2011 elk raffle tags, spending under $50—but won a three-month long hunting season, a privilege some pay thousands for at auction. Thompson ended up bagging a trophy animal on public land (Wenaha Wildlife Area), an elk that green scored over 400”.

“It was the first time I had bought raffle tickets,” said Thompson. “I got the 15 ticket package, sent them off and forgot about them. I was pretty surprised when I won.”

Thompson hunted nearly every day after getting off work starting on Sept. 1, 2011 and took his bull just before dark on Sept. 24 on Eden Bench, near Troy, where he knew the animal frequented based on previous scouting trips. Eden Bench is within the Wenaha Wildlife Area, a 13,000-acre wildlife area managed by ODFW.

“It was a good deal,” said Thompson. “I’m pretty sure I’ll buy more tickets for this year.”

Raffle tickets for 2012 big game hunts (deer, elk, Rocky Mtn goat, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep) will be on sale until May 7. Raffle tickets can also be given as a gift for someone else.

Prices range from $4.50 for one deer hunt raffle ticket to $11.50 for one bighorn sheep, Rocky Mtn goat or pronghorn antelope hunt raffle ticket. Multiple ticket packages are available with a per-ticket price discount. See the mail order form at or page 22-23 of the 2012 Oregon Big Game Regulations for a full breakdown of prices and an order form.

Buy tickets online or by mail or fax order no later than May 7, 2012. Mail and fax orders must be received (not just postmarked or fax dated) by May 7. Completed tickets must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, May 17 (mail to ODFW Raffles, PO Box 7760, Salem OR 97303 or hand-deliver to ODFW Headquarters, 3406 Cherry Ave NE).

Winning tickets will be drawn at the Oregon Hunters Association Convention at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds (Redmond) on Saturday, May 19. Raffle tickets can also be purchased from 5-7 p.m. at the event, and completed tickets hand-delivered from 5-7:30 pm. The drawing will be held at 7:45 p.m.

Track raffle ticket sales at the following website, which is updated weekly

Proceeds from deer and elk raffle tag sales go to ODFW’s Access and Habitat Program, which funds projects that provide hunter access and/or improve wildlife habitat on private land in Oregon. The proceeds from pronghorn, goat and sheep raffle tickets benefit research and management efforts on behalf of those species.

More information and an order form may be found on pages 20-23 of the 2012 Oregon Big Game Regulations booklet or online at


Friday, March 9, 2012

Minox Presents New Red Dot Reticle Riflescope

MINOX ZE-i Line - Precision Made in Germany
For the decisive moment.

Available in Summer 2012
MINOX presents four prototypes of the new riflescope with red dot reticle – Precision“Made in Germany”

After successfully introducing and establishing the MINOX ZA riflescope line, the optical specialist from Wetzlar is now expanding its product range with the presentation of four prototypes of the new ZE-i line with red dot reticle at the IWA 2012. The new riflescopes have been meticulously designed to meet the needs of passionate hunters and marksmen and women. With their quality seal “Made in Germany” and an outstanding cost/benefit ratio they are able to set new standards in their class.

Equipped with a 30 mm riflescope tube, a 5x magnification and a red dot reticle with 11 brightness settings, the new ZE-i line offers the user maximum flexibility and precision for short and long range shooting distances.

The product launch is set for the summer of 2012, ready for the drive hunt season, and will include the following models:
                                                Reticlenr. 4 with red dot
  • ZE 5 i 1-5x24
  •  ZE 5 i 2-10x50                                                                 

  • ZE 5 i 3-15x56
  • ZE 5 i 5-25x56

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Oregon Recreation Report

Hunting, Fishing, Wildlife Viewing
February 28, 2012
Trout Stocking
Is underway in several water bodies in the NW, SW and Willamette zones. Check out the trout stocking schedule for more information.
Late season goose: South Coast Zone, Malheur and Klamath Counties
Trevor Clark with elk
Trevor Clark with a 6x7 Rocky Mountain bull elk that he took in the Murderers Creek unit 8.
Hunting season open Feb. 18-March 10, see the regulations for details.
Apply early for a 2012 controlled hunt
You could win a 2013 Sports Pac.
Fifty hunters already have.
Youth spring turkey season is April 7-9, 2012
The season dates are wrong in the 2011-12 Oregon Game Bird Regulations. Hunters 17 and under can hunt Saturday, Sunday and Monday this year.

Strong Returns of Columbia River Chinook Salmon, Coastal Coho Prejected

OLYMPIA - Fishing opportunities look promising for chinook in Washington’s ocean waters and the Columbia River, as well as for coho in coastal bays and rivers, according to preseason salmon forecasts released today at a public meeting in Olympia.

Forecasts for chinook, coho, sockeye and chum salmon mark the starting point for developing 2012 salmon-fishing seasons in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas. The forecasts were developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribes.

Fishery managers have scheduled a series of public meetings over the next few weeks to discuss potential fishing opportunities before finalizing seasons in early-April. A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process are available on WDFW’s website at .

Phil Anderson, WDFW director, said protecting and restoring weak wild salmon populations will continue to be the top priority as fishery managers develop salmon seasons.

"Over the next few weeks, we will work with tribal co-managers and constituents to establish fishing opportunities on abundant runs of hatchery salmon while ensuring we meet or exceed conservation objectives for wild fish populations," said Anderson.

Anderson noted that state budget reductions over the past three years are also a factor in designing fisheries that can be managed effectively with a reduced staff. State general-fund support for WDFW has been reduced by $38.2 million, or nearly 40 percent, since 2009.

As in past years, salmon-fishing prospects in 2012 vary by area:

  • Columbia River: About 651,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River this season - a run size similar to the last couple year’s returns, said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for WDFW.
    More than half of the chinook anticipated this year - about 353,000 salmon - will be "upriver brights" headed to the Hanford Reach area and the Snake River. That would be the fourth largest run of upriver brights since 1964, when fishery managers began keeping detailed records, said LeFleur.
    While the chinook run is expected to be up, the forecast of 317,000 Columbia River coho is about 45,000 fish below last year’s projection.
    "I’m expecting salmon fisheries to look a lot like last year," said LeFleur. "We had some great fishing in 2011, especially for fall chinook in the mainstem upstream of Buoy 10. Anglers fishing that section caught a record 28,300 chinook last season."
  • Washington’s ocean waters: Nearly 191,000 hatchery chinook are expected to return this year to the lower Columbia River. Those salmon, known as "tules," traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery. The 317,000 coho salmon bound for the Columbia River also account for a significant portion of the ocean catch.
    "It’s still early in the process, but we will likely have an ocean salmon fishery similar to what we have seen the last two years, when we had an abundance of chinook in the ocean but low numbers of hatchery coho," said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fishery manager for WDFW.
  • Coastal bays and rivers: Strong returns of wild coho salmon are expected this year to many of Washington’s coastal streams, including the Queets, Quillayute, and Hoh rivers, as well as to Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay area rivers, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.
    "If the wild runs come in at forecast, fishing opportunities for coho in those areas should be great this year," he said.
  • Puget Sound: Overall, coho returns to Puget Sound are expected to be lower than last season. About 732,000 coho are forecast to return to Puget Sound streams, 249,000 below last year’s forecast.
    But there are some bright spots for coho in the Sound, including returns to the Nooksack and Samish rivers, said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW. Coho returns to those two rivers are expected to total about 88,000 fish this season.
    Thiesfeld said another bright spot for anglers is Baker Lake, where an abundant sockeye salmon return of about 35,400 fish is expected this season.
    Meanwhile, summer/fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total about 224,000 fish, slightly below last year’s projection of 243,000. The bulk of that return is hatchery chinook.
    To protect low returns of wild chinook to the Skagit, Snohomish, Stillaguamish and Green (Duwamish) rivers, fisheries throughout Puget Sound will likely be limited to those that focus on hatchery chinook, said Thiesfeld.

State, tribal and federal fishery managers will meet March 2-7 in Sacramento, Calif., 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 to discuss regional fishery 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 2012 salmon seasons.

The PFMC is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 1-6 meeting in Seattle. The 2012 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters will be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.