• April brings flurry of ‘opening days’ leading to statewide lake trout season

    For many anglers, “opening day” is synonymous with the start of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which gets under way April 30 this year. More than 300,000 Washingtonians are expected to descend on trout-stocked waters throughout the state that day to kick off the new season.

    But anglers – and hunters, too – are also looking forward to a variety of other “opening days” this month for seasons ranging from lingcod fishing on the north coast to turkey hunting throughout the state. Some ocean beaches will also open for morning razor clam digs if tests show the clams are safe to eat.

    “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 2011-12 fishing or hunting license is required to get in on the action after March 31, when all 2010-11 licenses expire. The exception is young people under age 15, who may fish for free.

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  • BPA Reports: Salmon ride smoothly through eight dams

    The smooth green water of a fish weir (closest spillway) lets young salmon slide over a dam in the surface water they prefer.  (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo)Young Northwest salmon and steelhead migrating toward the ocean will benefit for the first time this year from easier, safer routes through all eight lower Snake and Columbia river dams.

    The improved passage routes will help promote fish survival in what is expected to be one of the Northwest’s driest years on record. Fish protection regularly takes priority over power generation in the daily operation of hydroelectric dams that provide much of the region’s electricity. But the improvements also demonstrate extensive upgrades of dam facilities to benefit fish.

    The new routes let fish stay close to the water’s surface, where they instinctively swim. Young fish now survive their downstream trip through the dams at rates as good as or better than in the 1960s, when only four dams stood on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers. Survival now is nearly twice as high as in the mid-to-late 1970s.

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  • 2009 Salmon Fisheries Approved

    MILLBRAE, Calif. – Salmon anglers will have increased fishing opportunities on the coast and in the Columbia River this summer, while most recreational fisheries in Puget Sound will be similar to seasons adopted last year, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

    Washington's 2009 salmon fishing seasons, developed by WDFW and treaty Indian tribal co-managers, were approved today during the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (PFMC) meeting in California. The fishing package defines regulations for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington's ocean and coastal areas.

    While salmon anglers this year have a variety of fishing opportunities, fisheries will be constrained to meet conservation goals for wild salmon stocks, said Phil Anderson, WDFW's interim director.

    "As we develop these fisheries, our first priority is to meet crucial conservation objectives for wild salmon," Anderson said. "This year's package of salmon fisheries accomplishes that goal while also providing anglers good fishing opportunities throughout Washington's waters."

    One of the most promising opportunities this year will be fishing for hatchery coho salmon on the coast and in the Columbia River, said Anderson.

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  • Draft policies for Grays Harbor salmon, Columbia sturgeon available for review

    OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking public comment through Jan. 9 on draft policies for managing Grays Harbor salmon and lower Columbia River white sturgeon populations.

    The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), extended public comment on the two policies during discussions at its public meeting Dec. 6-7 in Olympia.

    Also during the meeting, the commission approved proposals by WDFW to purchase three properties to protect fish and wildlife habitat and provide public access for outdoor recreation.

    State fishery managers have been working with a citizen committee and the public since October to develop the draft options for a new policy to address conservation and catch allocation for Grays Harbor salmon fisheries.

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  • Salmon returns to Columbia River look good so far

    This year’s run of spring Chinook returning to the Columbia River — 291,000 adults counted passing Bonneville Dam by the last day of spring — is comfortably above the 10-year average of 204,000. By contrast, the annual average in the decade of the 1990s, when 12 populations of steelhead and salmon in the Columbia Basin were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, was only 60,500 fish.

    Thus, the closing decade is shaping up to be one of the best since Bonneville Dam was completed in 1938, with three remarkable years: 2001, 2002 and now 2010.

    On average, natural-origin returns of spring Chinook in the past ten years were higher than the extreme low levels of the 1990’s. However, NOAA biologists said those ‘90s runs were well below the averages for the previous decades and make any subsequent increases look more dramatic. Increasing natural-origin returns to levels that can sustain production during low periods, they noted, remains a major objective of Columbia basin recovery efforts.

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  • Contribute to wild-salmon recovery by taking home six hatchery coho

    VANCOUVER, Wash. – Anglers planning to fish for salmon on any of the eight tributaries that flow into the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam can expect good fishing for hatchery coho.

    Starting Aug. 1, when fall salmon fishing opens in the Columbia River Basin, anglers fishing those rivers will be allowed to catch and keep up to six adult salmon per day, provided that at least four of them are hatchery-reared coho. No wild coho may be retained.

    The six-fish daily limit – up from two salmon in recent years – may also include up to two chinook salmon, subject to rules in effect on each river.

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