Vision for world-class tunnel training developing at Satsop

With all the tunnels – including the next phase of the Sound Transit project to the University District and the Alaskan Way Viaduct project in downtown Seattle and more projects coming in the years ahead – skilled tunnel workers are needed, he explained.

 

“And when we get done putting together our different training modules at Satsop, we will offer the only hands-on training of its kind in North America,” he said. He noted that there’s excellent training at the Colorado School of Mines and in West Virginia, but that the training to be developed at Satsop will be more hands-on and concentrate on tunnels instead of mine work.

 

 “We already have people in California, the Midwest and the East Coast interested in attending the program,” said Warren who helped establish Satsop as one of the NW Laborers Training sites in 2007. The organization also has training centers in Kingston, Spokane, Pasco and West Jordan, Utah.

 

“At Satsop, we’ve already taught mason tending, scaffolding building, concrete classes, railroad installation, grade checking, transit and level, elevation control, asphalt workers class and forklift operation and certification,” Warren said.

 

In addition to people who want to work in tunnels, various regulatory agencies have shown interest in having their people, who would have occasion to go into tunnels as part of their work, attend the SHAFT course, Warren said.

 

Satsop Development Park was chosen for this new tunnel training center because it offered space that was becoming tight at the NW Laborers Training facility in Kingston. In addition, originally organizers thought they could use the extensive tunnel network built beneath the planned nuclear power plants that were never completed, Warren said.

 

While hopes are still high that some of those pre-existing 12-foot tunnels can be used for training as the center develops, some significant work would need to be done first to ensure safety, Warren said.

 

“We’re not going underground yet, “ he said, adding that instead they are working on a simulated tunnel and using a local merchant to supply the 1,800 pieces of specialty wood needed for the students to build it.

 

In addition, Warren said the tunnel industry has generously donated many key pieces of equipment. The Obayashi Corporation donated 300 feet of railroad track. Frank Coluccio Construction Co. donated a hyperbaric transfer station and the Vinci, Parsons Frontier-Kemper Joint Venture donated a huge tunnel boring machine – TBM—all so that students can have a true hands-on experience. Even King County donated 100 feet of leftover concrete tunnel segments that would have cost them money to destroy, but are a great asset to the training program, Warren said.  

 

“These are big, big donations to help us put together a top-notch training program,” Warren said, noting that the value of the TBM for scrap metal alone is about $130,000.

 

After the NW Laborers Training facility at Satsop offers the SHAFT class, it plans to offer a class on light rail and maintenance, tunnel rescue training and hyperbaric work, Warren said.

 

In an interesting twist, the tunnel instructor, Stan Simons, 50, who has been underground around the world, began his career at Satsop in 1978 doing dirt work for both cooling towers, both reactor buildings, and the turbine building.

 

             Now, the 6-foot 5-inch Simons says he’s eager to be teaching this new course and working hard to develop other related tunnel courses at Satsop.

 

“We love this partnership with the NW Laborers Training and we’re particularly excited about the new tunnel training courses,” said Tami Garrow, CEO of Satsop Development Park.

 

“The building trades are a huge part of our regional economy and we’re so glad the Park’s space, super-sized infrastructure, classrooms and outdoor training facilities so perfectly suit these kinds of job-training opportunities.”

 

“What a great way to match tomorrow’s workforce with those high-wage, high-demand job-training opportunities,” she said.

 

For more information about the tunnel classes go to www.nwlett.org.

 

 

Satsop Development Park is a 1,700-acre mixed-use business and technology park located in scenic Grays Harbor County in Southwest Washington just 30 minutes from Olympia and the I-5 corridor. It is home to more than 30 businesses, offers 440 acres of developed, pad-ready land and buildings supported by super-sized infrastructure and surrounded by 1,200 acres of sustainable managed forestland.

 

            The Park is managed by the Grays Harbor Public Development Authority, a public corporation whose mission is to create new jobs and investment for the region. More information on Satsop Development Park can be found at www.Satsop.com.

Chinook salmon are king in coming weeks

 Starting July 8, the catch limit off the coast will increase from one adult chinook salmon to two as part of anglers’ daily limit. Beginning July 16, anglers will be able to catch and keep hatchery chinook in marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) of Puget Sound.

Fishery managers estimate that nearly 653,000 fall chinook will return to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more than last year. Another 226,500 chinook are expected to return to rivers flowing into Puget Sound.

“The majority of the chinook salmon caught in statewide fisheries are hatchery fish, specifically raised for harvest,” Long said. “The regulations include a number of provisions designed to protect weak, wild runs and it is essential that anglers know the rules and follow them out on the water.”

Fishing regulations for salmon and other fisheries are outlined in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm. In-season updates are also posted on that website and are also available by calling WDFW’s Fishing Hotline at 360-902-2500.

Anglers and others spending time on Puget Sound should also be aware that most areas of the Sound are now open for crabbing. In fact, two additional areas – 7 South and 7 East – near the San Juan Islands open for crabbing July 14. For more information on that and other outdoor activities now available throughout the state, see the regional reports below.

[pagebreak:North Puget Sound]

Fishing: Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of numerous fishing opportunities. In the freshwater, anglers can cast for chinook and steelhead at some the region’s rivers, as well as trout and bass at local lakes. On Puget Sound, crab and chinook fisheries are under way, with additional salmon openings around the corner.

Salmon fishing got off to a good start in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. Catch counts on opening day (July 1) in the San Juans show 46 anglers at the Bellingham ramp checked 12 chinook, while 65 at the Washington Park ramp brought home 15 chinook.

In Marine Area 8-2, fishing continues to be slow at the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery, said Thiesfeld. The fishery is currently open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.

Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) also is open for salmon fishing, but anglers must release all chinook through July 15.

Anglers will soon have other opportunities in the region to catch and keep chinook. Beginning July 16, marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 open for hatchery chinook salmon retention. Anglers in those two areas will be allowed to keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon.

The chinook selective fisheries in marine areas 9 and 10 run through Aug. 31. Thiesfeld reminds anglers that regulations vary for inner Elliott Bay, Sinclair Inlet and public fishing piers in those marine areas. Check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm) for more information.

When releasing salmon, anglers should keep the fish in the water and avoid using a net, Thiesfeld said. If a net is needed, use a rubber net or a soft knotless nylon or cotton net.

Thiesfeld also suggests that anglers:

· Look for the adipose fin while playing the fish, and use polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.

· Avoid the use of light tackle and play the fish quickly to avoid exhausting it.

· Modify tackle to reduce potential injury to the fish. For example, use circle hooks when mooching and only one hook on hoochies and bucktails.

· Use a dehooker to remove the hook.

· Cut the leader if the fish has swallowed the hook.

· Avoid touching or handling the fish, especially around the eyes and gills.

· Support the entire length of the fish if it must be lifted out of the water.

· Do not lift the fish by the tail or jaw.

· Gently place the fish back in the water.

Anglers can find information on selective fishing and selective fishing techniques on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/selective/techniques/.

Meanwhile, the crab fishery is under way in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 and 10. Fisheries in those areas are open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. The southern and eastern portions of Marine Area 7 will open July 14 under the same weekly schedule.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/) for more information.

In freshwater, anglers can fish for hatchery chinook salmon on the Skagit and Cascade rivers. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

On the Skykomish, a new rule that went into effect July 6 prohibits the retention of chinook from the mouth upstream to the Wallace River, the only portion of the river that was open to salmon fishing. Low chinook returns to the Wallace River Hatchery prompted WDFW to close the river to chinook retention to help ensure enough salmon make it back to the hatchery to meet spawning goals. For more information, check the emergency rule change at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=927.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.

Wildlife viewing: Now’s a good time to head to the Ballard Locks to check out salmon passing the fish ladder viewing windows. Several hundred sockeye pass through the fish ladder daily, and in the next couple of weeks chinook should start showing up in greater numbers. The Ballard Locks are located in northwest Seattle where the Lake Washington Ship Canal enters Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound. For information, call the locks’ Visitor Center in Seattle at (206) 783-7059.

Whalewatchers in the region recently reported a unique sighting. About 100 Pacific white-sided dolphins were spotted north of the San Juan Islands. “They put on an amazing show, riding our wake and breaching,” according to a report on the Orca Network (http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html).

Elsewhere, birders visiting Marymoor Park in Redmond spotted numerous species, including wood ducks, a barn owl, several Rufous hummingbirds, a purple martin and a Bullock’s oriole.

[pagebreak:South Sound/Olympic Peninsula]

Fishing: Anglers’ chances of catching and keeping a chinook salmon off the Washington coast have improved in recent days with the start of non-selective fisheries for chinook in all ocean areas. Chinook can now be retained coastwide, whether fin-clipped or not.

Now, another change in state fishing rules will allow anglers to keep two of those fish per day. Starting July 8, they will be able to retain two chinook – instead of just one – as as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

As in previous years, only coho with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained as part of that limit. Anglers may now retain coho in all ocean areas, although this year’s recreational quota for coho is 67,200 fish, down from 176,400 last year.

Patrick Pattillo, WDFW’s salmon policy coordinator, said the state initially took a cautious approach in setting the limits for the coastal chinook fishery this summer.

“With predictions of chinook stocks nearly three times as large as last year, we were concerned that we could see very high catch rates for chinook – as we did in 2002 – resulting in an early closure,” said Pattillo. “But from what we’ve seen so far, we no longer have that concern.”

Even so, the fishery has been productive – especially around Westport. During the marked selective chinook fishery in June, anglers caught approximately 4,571 chinook off the coast between the opening and June 27. The vast majority of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 off Westport where nearly 7,000 anglers landed 4,263 marked chinook. The mark rate there was 73 percent.

On July Fourth, when non-selective rules took effect, fish counters sampled 245 anglers in Westport with 129 chinook and 82 coho. In Ilwaco, the 603 anglers sampled had caught 733 coho and 83 chinook.

“The effort hasn’t been real high, yet, but it will build this summer,” said Doug Milward, WDFW ocean fisheries manager. “It always does, especially around Ilwaco.”

Meanwhile, salmon fisheries opened July 1 in marine areas 5 and 6 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where early reports indicate fishing for hatchery chinook will be similar to last year’s successful fishery. The waters around Port Angles provided the best salmon fishing for the opener. Between July 1 and 4, creel counts showed that about 400 anglers reeled in approximately 160 chinook salmon at Ediz Hook.

Olson’s Resort and Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu both provided reasonably good salmon fishing, with anglers throughout both marine areas also landing a few rockfish, lingcod and greenlings.

Elsewhere in Puget Sound, fishing effort has been generally light. In Marine Area 11 off Tacoma and Vashon Island, creel counts the week of June 28-July 4 produced 61 chinook. Most of those fish were caught off Point Defiance and near Gig Harbor. On July 3, 165 anglers were surveyed with five chinook and 88 flatfish. So far, very few coho have shown themselves in Puget Sound.

Marine Area 9, west of Whidbey Island, opens to salmon fishing July 16.

The rules for catching chinook and coho vary depending on the marine area. All of the seasons and rules can be found in the 2010 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. The pamphlet is free at the more than 600 stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. It’s available at WDFW offices and at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html.

If crab is your seafood of choice, you’re in luck. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are open in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and most areas of Puget Sound. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:

· Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (Tacoma-Vashon) – Opened June 18 and runs through Jan. 2, seven days a week.

· Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) – Opened July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.

· Marine areas 7 South and East (south and east of the San Juan Islands) – Will open July 14 through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.

There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6¼-inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.

The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is five inches and either sex may be kept.

Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-11 edition of Washington’s Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet, which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas. The pamphlet is free and available at the more than 600 stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The pamphlet also can be downloaded from WDFW’s web site at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Before heading out, crabbers should check for any emergency rule changes adopted since the fishing pamphlet was published. Those changes can be found on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change toll-free hotline at (866) 880-5431.

Lake Aberdeen and Lake Sylvia in Grays Harbor County both received significant plants of rainbow trout this spring and well into June, and were among the 10 Region 6 lakes listed on WashingtonLakes.com’s “Top Lakes Scoreboard.” Lake Tarboo in Jefferson County and Lake Louise in Pierce County also made the list.

Wildlife viewing: Aluminum recycling is taking a back seat at one household in Chimacum, Jefferson County, where a small brown bird, with a yellow underbelly, has built a nest with five eggs on the home’s can crusher.

Fortunately for the bird and her soon-to-be offspring, the woman who does the recycling is also an avid birdwatcher. Her July 6 report and dozens of other recent bird sightings are at http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/TWET.html

Be aware that with warm summer weather finally here, the ground cover that benefitted from a wet spring is drying out. WDFW enforcement officers and land managers are reminding outdoor recreationists many of the Department’s 900,000 acres in 32 wildlife area complexes and over 150 water access sites across the state do not allow camp fires or any other kinds of open fires.

Where campfires are allowed, they are usually restricted to metal fire rings and must be kept to less than three feet in height and diameter. Specific rules by property can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/index.html .

[pagebreak:Southwest Washington]

Fishing: Anglers continue to reel in hefty summer chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River, although the fishery is being reshaped by an influx of upriver steelhead, changing river conditions and new fishing opportunities on the coast. Other considerations include a record sockeye run and the fact that sturgeon retention is allowed in the estuary at least through July 11.

During the first four days of July, WDFW interviewed 310 boat anglers on the lower Columbia River with 21 adult summer chinook, 30 steelhead and no sockeye. Also contacted were 989 bank anglers with 33 adult summer chinook, 124 steelhead and eight sockeye.

“The fishery has begun to change with the arrival of increasing numbers of upriver steelhead,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Those fish are starting to draw anglers away from the deep water toward the bank, where they’re targeting hatchery steelhead and sockeye.”

Under this year’s expanded season, the daily limit for adult salmonids is two marked hatchery chinook or marked hatchery steelhead (or one of each) on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.

The current mix of summer chinook and steelhead contains a significant portion of wild fish, so anglers should be sure to check for a clipped adipose fin and healed scar on both species, Hymer said.

Anglers can also count any sockeye measuring at least 12 inches toward their two-adult daily limit from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam. Through July 6, just over 353,000 sockeye had been counted at Bonneville Dam, surpassing the previous record of 335,300 fish in 1947.

But counting sockeye is not the same as catching them, Hymer said. “These silver torpedoes are fairly single-minded when it comes to moving upriver so anglers should really consider them ‘bonus fish’ if they catch one,” he said. One sockeye was recently recycled downstream to the Massey Bar on the Cowlitz River three times during the same week and returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery each time.

Most hatchery steelhead caught in recent days were taken along the banks of the Columbia River from Longview downstream. Averaging four to six pounds apiece, these upriver fish are expected to light up a number of fisheries as they move toward hatcheries on the upper Columbia and the lower Snake River. Look for them later this month at the mouth of the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers plus Drano Lake and the White Salmon River, where they typically dip into the cooler water of the tributaries to beat the heat.

Fishing is also expected to be good this month on the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal and Klickitat rivers as separate runs of hatchery steelhead move into those tributaries to the Columbia River.

But, while summer steelhead have begun to upstage summer chinook, Hymer expects to see anglers catch a lot more salmon – including the occasional 40 pounder – before the fishery closes at the end of the day July 31. According to an updated forecast, 75,000 summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year – the fourth largest run since 1980.

Hymer notes, however, that fishing tactics for chinook salmon have changed since the fishery got under way last month. Since then, average water temperatures have risen to 63 degrees and flows have dropped by half.

“Fishing tactics have changed to reflect the conditions,” Hymer said. “Most anglers fishing for summer chinook are going deep – 20 to 30 feet down – and using large plugs wrapped with sardine fillets in addition to wobblers and other fall gear.”

One question is whether salmon fishing might be better in the ocean. All areas off the Washington coast are now open for the retention of both chinook and coho salmon. For more information, see the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula of this report. Anglers have also been catching good-size landlocked coho at Riffe Lake in recent days.

Another option is to fish for white sturgeon on the Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines, although that could present a challenge given the low catch rates in those waters. The current opening runs through July 11, after which fishery managers from Washington and Oregon will meet to discuss whether to again extend the fishery.

During the week ending July 5, private boat anglers interviewed at the Deep River and Knappton ramps averaged a legal-size sturgeon for every 9.5 rods. At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, 41 percent of charter boat customers caught legal-size fish, but private boaters averaged just one fish for every 12 rods.

Meawhile, the shad fishery has about run its course, but walleye fishing is picking up in The Dalles Pool. Bass fishing is also improving as water temperatures rise.

Trout anglers should know that Goose Lake near Carson has been planted with 5,500 catchable-size brown trout and 6,000 cutthroat since mid-June.

Wildlife viewing: Birders looking for a “personal first” along the lower Columbia River might want to keep their eyes peeled for eastern kingbirds. Bob Flores, a veteran birder from Ridgefield, recently reported seeing two of them on Bachelor Island, an area not generally open to the public. “I feel this is part of a larger kingbird movement seen up and down the state,” he wrote in a posting on the Tweeters birding website (http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/ ). “If there are kingbirds on the island, there could be kingbirds along Lower River Road or further north along the [Columbia] river.”

Eastern kingbirds are considered common in eastern Washington and much of the rest of the United States, but are rarely seen west of the Cascades. Black and gray with a white chest, these birds have progressively moved west in recent decades. The bird’s most distinctive field marking is a white band at the tip of its black tail. They stay in Washington until September, then return to their wintering grounds in South America.

A more common sight in southwest Washington – especially at this time of year – is black bears. With temperatures rising and more people heading outdoors, WDFW is reminding citizens of steps they can take to avoid problems with these potentially dangerous animals.

“The best advice we can offer people is don’t feed the bears,” said Capt. Murray Schlenker, who heads WDFW’s regional enforcement program in southwest Washington. “The majority of bear problems begin when people either intentionally or unintentionally feed the animals.”

Unsecured garbage containers, garbage sacks left outside in the hot sun, pet food left outdoors, and birdfeeders can attract hungry bears looking for a meal, Schlenker said. Bar-b-que grills and briquettes also contain scents that attract bears as well.

While bears naturally avoid people, the animals can lose their instinctive fear of humans and become increasingly aggressive when they are allowed access to those items, Schlenker said. That’s when the situation can become dangerous for both humans and the animal.

“Because our first priority is public safety, bears that have lost their fear of humans are often euthanized,” he said. “That’s unfortunate, because the animal often winds up paying the price for human carelessness and indifference.” For more information about avoiding trouble with bears, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/bears.htm.

[pagebreak:Eastern Washington]

Fishing: Fishing is picking up for warmwater species in waterways throughout the south end of the region, especially during cooler evening hours. Smallmouth bass are found throughout the Snake River and channel catfish can be found in its backwaters and sloughs. Both species are caught near the mouth of the Walla Walla River.

Smallmouth bass may be caught below Prescott in the lower portion of the Touchet River. The Columbia River and its connected sloughs have yellow perch, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel catfish, brown bullheads, an occasional walleye, and other species.

Waters in the north end of the region are also seeing warmwater fish action. The Pend Oreille River’s Boundary Dam reservoir is good for smallmouth bass, and its Box Canyon Dam reservoir is good for largemouth bass. Northern pike are also throughout the river. Stevens County’s Pierre Lake has largemouth bass, crappie, and bullhead catfish. Loon and Deer lakes in southern Stevens County have both species of bass, plus bullheads, perch, and bluegill. Pend Oreille County’s Diamond Lake is usually good for perch this time of year.

Long Lake, the reservoir off the Spokane River in northwest Spokane County has been good for crappie, perch and both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Chapman Lake in southwest Spokane County is also producing both largemouth and smallmouth bass catches, plus some kokanee. Downs Lake, also in the southwest part of the county, has a few perch and some really nice largemouth bass.

Spokane County’s Amber, Badger, and Williams lakes continue to provide good catches of rainbow and cutthroat trout during early morning or evening hours. Rock Lake in Whitman County also continues to be good for both rainbow and brown trout fishing.

Wildlife viewing: As temperatures rise and summer advances, wildlife viewing is best at dawn and dusk when animals are more active. Most species are tending offspring now, so viewing should be from a distance with the aid of binoculars and scopes to avoid stressing young families. And motorists should slow down on roadways where traditional deer crossings now may include fawns.

Bird watching, or at least listening, can be productive throughout the region. Many of the 51 locations featured in the Palouse to Pines Loop of The Great Washington State Birding Trail map provide good summertime birding. Riverside State Park, on the Spokane River just northwest of downtown Spokane, has American dippers and pileated woodpeckers. The Little Spokane River Natural Area further north has ospreys and common mergansers. Mt. Spokane State Park northeast of Spokane has red crossbills and western tanagers. Liberty Lake County Park to the east of Spokane has common nighthawks and northern pygmy owls.

In Pend Oreille County, the U.S. Forest Service Noisy Creek campground on the shores of Sullivan Lake is a good spot to see common loons and red-necked grebes. The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, east of Colville, hosts white-headed woodpeckers, American redstarts, Swainson’s thrushes and many more species. WDFW’s Sherman Creek Wildlife Area on the shores of Lake Roosevelt in Ferry County can provide glimpses of common and Barrow’s goldeneyes on the water.

Copies of the region’s birding map are available at WDFW’s Spokane Valley office at 2315 N. Discovery Place (509-892-1001).

WDFW enforcement officers throughout the region continue to respond to complaints about problem black bears. Most situations involve bears getting into unsecured garbage, pet food, bird feeders, compost piles, or other attractions. “Many of us live or recreate in bear country, so we need to take precautions to avoid these kinds of problems,” says WDFW Captain Mike Whorton.

Salmon and steelhead watching may be good in southeast rivers and streams, where strong runs of these ocean-going fish are now returning. There’s no non-tribal fishing for these species open right now, said WDFW District Fish Biologist Glen Mendel, but careful watchers can help prevent potential poaching or harassment of vulnerable fish.

[pagebreak:Northcentral Washington]

Fishing: Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist, said salmon fishing in the mainstem Columbia River above Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster, and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, was slow at the start on July 1.

“It’s picking up considerably now as more fish pass over Wells Dam and start to stack up off the mouth of the Okanogan River,” he said. “Anglers should check the current fishing rules pamphlet very closely, in addition to any emergency rule changes for opening dates and daily catch limits. And remember there is a night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect for the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.”

Anglers can retain adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers. The daily limit is six salmon, but only up to three adult chinook, of which only one wild adult chinook may be retained. All sockeye and chinook with a floy or anchor tag attached must be released, and all coho and steelhead must be released. For all the details of this fishery, see http://bit.ly/cE8tGj.

Okanogan County lowland lakes are continuing to provide rainbow trout for both selective gear and bait anglers. “Cooler weather this past month has kept surface water temperatures cooler and the trout more active than normal,” Jateff said.

The water level on the Methow River is starting to drop and will begin to provide opportunities for trout fishing during the catch-and-release season that began last month. Selective gear must be used and no bait is allowed.

“If you’re interested in spiny ray fishing try Leader Lake for bluegill and Patterson Lake for yellow perch,” Jateff said. “There are no daily limits for either of these species in Okanogan County.”

Fishing at Banks Lake for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and walleye has been decent, according to last month’s WDFW creel reports. Anglers at Banks were averaging a little over an hour of fishing for every trout and bass caught, and about two hours for every walleye caught. Some largemouth bass were also caught at an average rate of about four hours per fish, but the sample size was very low.

Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, reminds anglers that Blackbird Island Pond, a juveniles only fishery in Leavenworth off the Wenatchee River in Chelan County, will not open to fishing until July 15. “We’ve had such an unusually cold spring that juvenile steelhead aren’t expected to leave until mid July this year,” Viola said. “So we won’t be stocking trout in the pond yet.” Blackbird Island Pond is used as both a hatchery steelhead acclimation pond and a trout-stocked fishing pond for anglers under 15 years of age.

Wildlife viewing: Although the best times are now at dawn and dusk as summer heat rises, wildlife viewing can be productive at many wildlife areas and state parks throughout the region. WDFW’s Sinlahekin unit has everything from butterflies to white-tailed deer. Both Conconully and Fort Okanogan state parks have watchable beavers. The Indian Dan Canyon unit of the Wells Wildlife Area has sharp-tailed, blue and ruffed grouse. The Bridgeport Bar unit of Wells has white pelicans and osprey. These and many other locations are detailed in the North Central Washington Wildlife Viewing map, available at WDFW’s regional office, 1550 Alder St. N.W. in Ephrata (509-754-4624).

Red-tailed hawks and other soaring raptors may be sharing the thermals with paragliders at WDFW’s Chelan Butte unit of the Chelan Wildlife Area this month. The Paragliding World Cup will be held in the Chelan area July 17-24, after a U.S. National Series paragliding cross country race July 10-15. As the Paragliding World Cup organizers note on their website (http://www.chelanpwc.com), the area has long been known for strong updrafts and the potential for long cross country flights by paraglider and hanglider pilots from around the world. Mid-July is considered the prime flying season at Chelan, with climb rates exceeding seven meters per second. WDFW wildlife area managers say the activity shouldn’t conflict with wildlife in the area, but they advise participants and spectators to stay on established roads and trails to avoid the potential for wildfires.

[pagebreak:Southcentral Washington]

Fishing: Sockeye salmon have been moving up the Columbia River in record numbers in recent weeks, arriving in Central Washington waters just in time for the summer weather. But catching sockeye is proving to be a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for anglers right now, including chinook, rainbow trout, bass and catfish.

A creel check in the John Day Pool conducted the week of June 21-27 tallied 150 anglers in 60 boats, along with 36 bank fishers. The bank anglers caught an estimated 53 hatchery summer chinook and released 14 wild fish. No sockeye were observed in the catch that week, even though upwards of 21,000 sockeye passed by the John Day Dam each day.

The number of boaters dropped off dramatically the following week, as did the catch. Thirty-four anglers surveyed during the week ending July 4 had caught three hatchery chinook and released three wild fish. As in the previous week, all salmon were caught from the bank.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW’s fish biologist in Pasco, credits high water in the Columbia River for the difficulty anglers have had catching salmon from a boat. Conditions, though, are improving. Flows in the Yakima River is back to normal, and the Snake and Columbia rivers have begun to go down, setting the stage for better bass and walleye fishing, said Hoffarth.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that all wild, unmarked chinook salmon and steelhead must be released. The daily limit is six hatchery chinook, up to two of which may be adults. Anglers must stop fishing once they retain the adult portion of their daily limit. Any steelhead retained counts toward the daily limit of two adult fish, said Hoffarth, who reminds anglers that the Yakima River is closed to salmon and steelhead fishing.

Steelhead fishing remains closed for the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 bridge and in the Snake River until the fall.

As for the difficulty of catching sockeye, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist Joe Hymer says that for a variety of reasons they are a hard fish to catch. “Sockeye mainly feed on zooplankton/krill, and most (river) anglers don’t use gear that a sockeye would typically eat,” he said. “A lot of times they use gear that is too big.”

The single-minded nature of sockeye also makes them hard to catch, Hymer said. “Sockeye move through an area pretty quickly,” he said. “In the lower Columbia, we see pretty good catches if the water is high and cool. But when the water drops and warms, the fish go deeper. Not until they get into a concentrated area like Lake Wenatchee and Lake Osoyoos, where anglers troll slow using gear that’s small and easier to bite, do catch rates go up.”

As in other areas, water levels in the upper Naches and upper Yakima tributaries have continued to drop, making them easier to fish. Eric Anderson, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Yakima, said this trend should continue through the summer, when fishing in most tributaries should be good for wild trout, cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Anglers should note that it is closed to fishing for or retaining bull trout, salmon and steelhead throughout the Yakima River basin.

“We have continued to stock lakes in the region and all are posted on the WDFW website’s catchable trout stocking reports,” said Anderson. “All of those reports have been updated with the latest triploid trout plants. “

Anderson reminds anglers they can research lakes by county by going to the 2010 Washington Fishing Prospects report http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/. He advises, however, that before heading out to an unfamiliar lake or stream, anglers should check the Washington Fishing Regulations at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html

“Each stream and lake you intend to fish may have different rules and catch limit restrictions,” said Anderson.

For those who don’t mind a little hike, Anderson says that as the weather warms and the snow recedes, Central Washington’s high mountain lakes provide good angling opportunities. The region’s high lakes fish stocking information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/regions/reg3/r3_highlakes.htm

Kokanee are continuing to bite at Keechelus and Rimrock lakes, where the daily catch limit is 16 fish.

Jumbo triploid trout were planted at Lost Lake in Kittitas County, as well as in Dog and Leech lakes in Yakima County. These fish are running about 1.5 pounds each. Leech Lake is fly-fishing only. Also in June, 4,500 catchable-size trout and 200 jumbos were planted in Easton Pond in Kittitas County.

Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. However, sturgeon fishing is prohibited from in the sturgeon sanctuaries from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam in the Snake River and upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam in the Columbia River.

Hunting: WDFW has published this year’s special hunt drawing results. Hunters can find out how they fared in the lottery by going to http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/ and typing in their 11 digit WILD ID number.

Wildlife viewing: While this is a great time to recreate outdoors, be aware that with summer come mosquitoes, heat and intense sun. Be sure to guard against all three with bug spray, sun screen and plenty of water to keep hydrated. And watch out for rattlesnakes.

This is also the time of year when birds need sources of fresh, cool water.. By keeping bird baths replenished, you can set the stage for close-up views of birds without leaving the comfort of your patio or air conditioned home. Commonly found in backyards this time of year are lots of rufous and calliope hummingbirds feeding at both sugar-water feeders and natural nectar-producing flowers. Those birders who venture to the mountains will be rewarded with a variety of birds, including brown creepers to yellow-rumped warblers.

WDFW biologists are asking hunters and hikers to keep an eye out for Canada geese that have been banded as part of an ongoing effort to track their movements, their lifespan and how they use rural and urban habitat.

This is the third consecutive year of the study. As in past years, WDFW is asking waterfowl hunters and hikers to report leg band information if they harvest or encounter a marked goose. The highly visible collars can be reported by any observer.

Reports of band or collar codes, along with locations and dates, should be made to U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory at 1-800-327-BAND, or online at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/call800.htm.

WDFW Weekender Report – Fishing for The Fourth

But there are still plenty of fireworks left over for July Fourth. By then, several new areas of Puget Sound will be open for salmon fishing, and anglers fishing off the coast also will be able to open their creels to hatchery coho and unmarked chinook.

Rather catch some crab? Seven popular areas of Puget Sound open to fishing for Dungeness crab July 1, including marine areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass/Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan/Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Just as July Fourth is a big day for outdoor recreation, it is also a busy day for law enforcement, said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy enforcement chief. He said the department’s officers will be working overtime throughout the holiday weekend to enforce state fishing regulations and protect public safety.

“My main message to anglers and crab fishers is to make sure you understand the fishing regulations before you head for the water,” Cenci said. “Our goal is to protect the resource and keep people safe. We really don’t enjoy issuing citations, but a violation is a violation, whether or not it’s intentional.”

With regard to public safety, Cenci noted that the weekend of June 26-27 is Operation Dry Water, when law enforcement officers throughout the nation will crack down on boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “Boaters in Washington state need to know that WDFW’s authority does not end with enforcing fishing and hunting regulations.”

State fishing regulations are outlined in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available from license vendors statewide and posted on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm. Anglers can also call WDFW’s Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500) for updates.

With regard to public safety, Cenci noted that the weekend of June 26-27 is Operation Dry Water, when law enforcement officers throughout the nation will crack down on boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “Boaters in Washington state should be aware that WDFW’s authority does not end with enforcing fishing and hunting regulations,” he said.

With that in mind, anglers and others planning to spend some time outdoors can find highlights of recreational opportunities now available throughout the state in the regional reports below. 

[pagebreak:North Puget Sound]

Fishing: Fishing has been slow for anglers on the saltwater, but catch numbers could rise as more marine areas open for salmon in July. On the rivers, anglers continue to cast for steelhead and spring chinook, and some have recently hooked a few nice fish.

Meanwhile, the crab fishery opens July 1 in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 12 (Hood Canal). Fisheries in those areas will be open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/) for more information.

In Marine Area 8-2, fishing continues to be slow at the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. The fishery is currently open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.

The catch-and-release salmon fishery in the northern portion of Marine Area 10 continues through June 30. However, beginning July 1, anglers fishing in the marine area can retain up to two salmon daily with no minimum size limit. Anglers must release chinook salmon.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), which also opens July 1 for salmon. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon but can only keep one chinook. “The San Juans really started off strong last year,” Thiesfeld said. “Hopefully, the opener will be just as good this year.”

Looking for some competition? The Bellingham Salmon Derby is scheduled for July 9-11 with a top prize of $5,000. For more information on the derby, which is hosted by the Bellingham Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers in association with the Northwest Marine Trade Association, is available at http://www.bellinghampsa.com/derby.htm.

In freshwater, portions of the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers are open for hatchery chinook salmon fishing. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish for salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

The Skykomish is open from the mouth to the Wallace River through July 31. Anglers fishing that portion of the river have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook salmon. Jennifer Whitney, WDFW regional fish biologist, advises anglers to keep checking WDFW’s website for information about potential fishing regulation changes on the Skykomish River. “Returns to the Wallace River Hatchery so far have been way down this year,” she said. “We will continue to watch this run closely and if it doesn’t improve we may need to close the river to salmon retention to ensure the hatchery gets enough fish to meet its spawning goals.”

The Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River is also open for fishing and some anglers have had success hooking hatchery steelhead there recently. That section of the river (1,500 feet upstream to 1,000 feet downstream of the Reiter Ponds Hatchery outlet) opened June 12 after the hatchery collected enough steelhead broodstock to meet spawning goals.

Anglers should be aware that a section of the South Fork Stillaguamish River was mistakenly omitted from the new sportfishing rules pamphlet. That section of the Stillaguamish, from Mountain Loop Highway Bridge upstream, opened for gamefish June 5. Fishing regulations include catch and release, except two hatchery steelhead may be retained. Selective gear rules also apply, and fishing from a floating device with a motor is prohibited.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.

Wildlife viewing: Birders are flocking to Marymoor Park in Redmond, where a couple of rare flycatchers have been spotted recently. A Least flycatcher has been seen – and heard – numerous times in some cottonwoods north of the bulletin board on the slough trail, while an ash-throated flycatcher has been sighted at the East Meadow. Both flycatchers are uncommon visitors to western Washington, although they can be found east of the Cascades. Least flycatchers – the smallest flycatchers found in Washington – are often seen in Okanogan County. The majority of ash-throated flycatchers can be found in southcentral Klickitat County, although a few pairs have been documented in Yakima, Kittitas, Chelan, Grant and Adams counties.

Whales continue to be a main attraction in the region. Gray whales and minke whales have been spotted milling about the waters off Whidbey Island, humpback whales have been seen in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca and orca whales have been sighted off Lime Kiln Point on San Juan Island.

In the interest of wildfire prevention, WDFW officials remind Fourth of July holiday celebrants that fireworks are not allowed on any of WDFW’s 900,000-some acres of water access sites and wildlife areas across the state. Campfires are restricted in many areas, too. For details by area, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/. 

[pagebreak:South Sound/Olympic Peninsula]

Fishing: Anglers will have more options to catch salmon in the days ahead as coastal area open to retention of hatchery coho and unmarked chinook, and new fisheries open on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Crabbers will also be able to drop pots in seven popular areas of Puget Sound, starting July1.

Through June 20, salmon anglers had caught 2,759 marked chinook salmon in the state’s first selective chinook fishery off the Washington coast. All but a few hundred of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 (Westport), where three in four anglers took home a fish. Mark rates for chinook have been averaging about 70 percent.

“The ocean fishery has been up and down from one day to the next, but anglers have definitely been taking home some nice chinook salmon,” said Doug Milward, WDFW ocean fisheries manager. “Chinook caught off Westport have been averaging around 15 pounds, which is big for this point in the season.”

Starting July 4, anglers fishing off Westport will also be able to count hatchery coho and unmarked chinook toward their daily limit. The new rule will take effect July 1 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay).

“Like the chinook, this year’s coho have been bigger than usual,” Milward said. “This fishery should keep getting better and better.”

Wendy Beeghley, a WDFW fish biologist who monitors the catch, asks that all anglers return completed logbooks after each day’s trip to help fishery managers keep track of the catch. “If you like this fishery, you can help keep it going by filling out the logbook and returning it to WDFW,” she said. Logbooks can be returned to fish checkers or by pre-paid mail.

Elsewhere, a chinook fishery will open in marine areas 5 and 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca) on July 1. The daily limit in those two areas is two fish at least 22 inches in length. All wild salmon must be released.

Meanwhile, recreational halibut fishing went out with a bang June 19, when anglers fishing off Neah Bay and La Push closed out the season by catching most of what was left of this year’s quota.

The one-day opening, plus good weather, gave coastal anglers the chance to catch both salmon and halibut on the same day, and some took advantage of that unique opportunity, said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler.

Looking ahead, seven popular areas of Puget Sound will open to fishing for crab July 1, including marine areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass/Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan/Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Dungeness and red rock crab seasons include:

· Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 and 13: Opened June 18 and run through Jan. 2.
· Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) – Will open at 7 a.m., July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.

There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6 ¼-inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.

The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is five inches and either sex may be kept.

Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-11 edition of Washington’s Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet, which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas. The pamphlet is free and available at the more than 600 stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The pamphlet also can be downloaded from WDFW’s web site at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Before heading out, crabbers should check for any emergency rule changes adopted since the fishing pamphlet was published. Those changes can be found on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change toll-free hotline at (866) 880-5431.

Trout and steelhead fishing got under way June 5 in area rivers, including the Skokomish, South Fork Skokomish and Dungeness. Anglers should note that selective gear rules are in effect on those rivers to protect wild summer steelhead. Details on rules and limits are online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Tanwax Lake in Pierce County is off to a good start for largemouth bass and rainbow trout. In Kitsap County, Wildcat, Buck, Island and Wye lakes have all received high marks from anglers fishing for largemouth bass and trout. Duck Lake in Grays Harbor County also has been getting accolades from anglers fishing for trout and crappie.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.

Wildlife viewing: July Fourth is always a big day for enjoying the outdoors, and this year’s three-day weekend provides the opportunity for an extended stay in one of the state’s campgrounds or wilderness areas.

If it’s birding you’re interested in, our state has six routes in the “Great Washington State Birding Trail” and one of them circles the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Loop stretches from the Nisqually River delta in south Puget Sound west to the Pacific Ocean and north to Cape Flattery before turning east at the Strait and then south to Hood Canal.

Depending on where you are in the Loop, bird watchers can see clouds of shorebirds circle and land on sandy beaches, and birds that appear to fly underwater in bubbling streams. Birds that regularly appear this time of year include dunlin, sanderlings, western sandpipers and nesting rare tufted puffins. Coastal birds include black turnstones, surfbirds and wandering tattlers.

Audubon Washington has produced colorful and informative maps for all six trails. The maps feature drawings of the birds likely to be encountered on the trail. Each map costs $4.95 and can be purchased at: http://wa.audubon.org/birds_GreatWABirdingTrail.html. You can link to the Olympia Loop map by clicking on the image to the left.

Be aware, no matter where in the woods you go you’re likely to encounter something considerably larger, and potentially more dangerous than birds. To minimize the chance of a bad experience, avoid surprising wildlife, don’t feed wild animals and keep your distance so that they can go about their business, providing you with a glimpse into how they live when humans aren’t around.

WDFW enforcement officers and land managers are reminding outdoor recreationists that fireworks are not allowed on any of the Department’s 900,000 acres in 32 wildlife area complexes and over 150 water access sites across the state and many do not allow camp fires or any other kinds of open fires.

Where campfires are allowed, they are usually restricted to metal fire rings and must be kept to less than three feet in height and diameter. Specific rules by property can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/index.html . 

[pagebreak:Southwest Washington]

Fishing: Summer chinook salmon are entering the lower Columbia River in large numbers, although catching them is proving to be a challenge. High, turbid water and floating debris have been giving anglers – especially boat anglers – a workout during the opening days of the season, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.

“Conditions are definitely tough for boat anglers,” Hymer said. “People have been catching some nice fish, but they have to deal with some extra challenges due to the high water and debris.”

Under these conditions, fishing from the bank has some advantages, Hymer said. During creel checks conducted during the first week of fishing, 1,463 bank anglers caught 62 adult chinook and released 25. The 572 boat anglers checked that week reported catching 33 adult summer chinook salmon and releasing 15 others.

Under new rules effective this year, anglers may retain only hatchery-reared chinook with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar. All wild, unmarked fish must be released. That is also the case with steelhead, which are showing up in the catch from the mouth of the Columbia River to Bonneville Dam.

“The trade-off is that this year’s summer chinook fishery is scheduled to run straight through July, rather than just a couple of weeks like last year,” Hymer said. “That wouldn’t have been possible without moving to a selective fishery.”

During the first week’s creel check, bank anglers reported catching 61 steelhead and releasing 13 others. Boat anglers surveyed that week caught eight steelhead and released five more. Anglers fishing the Cowlitz River have also been catching some hatchery steelhead.

According to the pre-season forecast, 88,800 summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year – the largest number since 2002. About a third of those salmon are estimated to be five-year-olds, some weighing up to 40 pounds.

Under this year’s rules, anglers may retain up to two adult hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead (or one of each) on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco All other salmon – including sockeye – must be released.

That may change, however, given the unexpectedly large number of sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam in recent days, said Cindy Le Fleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator. As of June 22, just over 134,000 sockeye had been tallied at the dam – already more than predicted – and the 26,873 counted the previous day was the second-highest on record for a single day since 1938.

“The rule requiring anglers to release sockeye was adopted because Lake Wenatchee was not expected to reach its escapement goal this year,” Le Fleur said. Given the strong return, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon may reconsider that decision during a teleconference scheduled Thursday (June 24) at 3 p.m.

The scheduled closure of the sturgeon fishery downstream from the Wauna powerlines will also be up for reconsideration during that meeting, Le Fleur said. Sturgeon fishing has been slow in that area – and throughout the lower Columbia River – for a number of weeks, which may allow fishery managers to extend the season, she said.

Any changes in the sockeye retention rule or the sturgeon season below the Wauna powerlines will be announced on WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/), the statewide Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500), regional hotline (360-696-6211 ext. 1010) and in a statewide news release.

For anglers hungering for shad, the Dalles Pool is clearly the place to be. During the week ending June 20, bank anglers averaged nine shad per rod although fishing was slow for boat anglers. Below Bonneville Dam, anglers have been averaging between zero and two shad per rod.

Rather catch warmwater fish? Boat anglers fishing The Dalles Pool have been averaging two walleye and a bass per rod. In the John Day Pool, 10 boats reported catching 15 bass and seven walleye.

At Riffe Lake, bank anglers fishing at the dam and Taidnapum have been averaging two landlocked coho per rod, kept or released. Anglers should also be aware that Goose Lake north of Carson was stocked with 2,500 catchable-size brown trout and 3,000 catchable-size cutthroat June 15.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.

Wildlife viewing: During a Sunday drive up the Columbia Gorge, area birder Wilson Cady reports spotting a greater yellowlegs in breeding plumage on a floating log in front of the boat launch at the mouth of the Wind River. “This is only the fifth individual I have seen in Skamania County in the last 30 years,” he wrote in a posting on the Tweeters birding website (http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/).

Farther downriver, at the mouth of Eagle Creek overlooking Bonneville Dam, another area birder sighted eight western grebes along with two horned grebes in breeding plumage. Other birds sighted that day include a female common merganser with two young in tow, a male scaup, cormorants and osprey.

Looking for a place to spot birds or just get out of the house? This month marks the first anniversary of the Gibbons Creek trail, a 2.25-mile footpath at the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, east of Washougal. Starting at a parking lot off Highway 14, the trail skirts wetlands, crosses Gibbons Creek and Redtail Lake, and passes through a cottonwood forest en route to the Columbia River. Hikers have plenty of opportunities to see wildlife – particularly neotropical birds and waterfowl – along the way.

According to area birder Wilson Cady, more than 200 of the 300-plus species of birds found in Clark County have been sighted in the 1,049-acre refuge. Great blue heron, bald eagles, greater white-fronted geese, goldfinches, Eurasian wigeon and goldeneye (both common and Barrow’s) are just a few of many species of birds known to visit the refuge during the year. For more information on the refuge, see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=13556 . 

[pagebreak:Eastern Washington]

Fishing: This is the time to fish Lake Roosevelt, including the Spokane River arm, for some of the tastiest freshwater fish – walleye. Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist, said walleye are distributing throughout the waterway now that they’ve spawned. The daily catch limit is eight walleye and there’s no minimum size, although only one over 22 inches may be retained.

The Seven Bays area and many other spots upstream on the big reservoir are also good for kokanee and rainbow trout fishing. The daily catch limit for kokanee is six fish, although no more than two can be wild fish. The limit on trout is five, but only two over 20 inches may be retained.

With all three species of fish very catchable, it’s a good time to purchase the new $24.50 two-pole endorsement, which allows anglers to use two poles while fishing at Lake Roosevelt and many other lakes throughout the state. For more information about the endorsement, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole/.

Anglers might want to consider spending a weekend camping at one of the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area’s campgrounds – Evans, Fort Spokane, Gifford, Hunters, Keller Ferry, Kettle Falls and Spring Canyon. Most are on a first-come, first-served basis, but groups need to reserve camp sites. For details see http://www.nps.gov/laro/.

Baker also noted that fishing has been good at many rainbow trout lakes in the northeast district. For example, Pend Oreille County’s Big Meadow Lake, about seven miles west of Ione on the Meadow Creek Road, is yielding catches of up to 16-inch rainbows.

At the opposite end of the region, the Tucannon River impoundments are cranking out catches of hatchery-stocked rainbow trout. The Tucannon River itself, from the mouth to the Tucannon Hatchery bridge, is also open to fishing. Anglers who have purchased the new $8.75 Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement can retain up to three hatchery-marked steelhead from the Tucannon’s open waters through October. Selective gear rules and a prohibition on internal combustion motors are in effect upstream of the Turner Road bridge at Marengo.

WDFW’s W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman said Tucannon lake or river anglers, and other outdoor recreationists who camp on the area, are finding everything very green and lush, thanks to recent rains. But that ample vegetation will be fuel for wild fires soon, so she reminds visitors, including Fourth-of-July holiday celebrants, to comply with the area’s restrictions on fires and a ban on fireworks. All WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites throughout the region are under the same fireworks ban and similar fire restrictions. For details by area, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/.

Anglers can get a little bit extra out of their fishing license at the Spokane Indians Baseball Club’s fifth annual “Fish and Wildlife Night” on Tuesday, July 6, when game tickets are discounted with the presentation of a valid fishing or hunting license. The game will feature fish and wildlife activities between innings and stadium fish and wildlife displays.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.

Wildlife viewing: Birdwatchers may spot Canada geese with new ornamentation near Sprague Lake, in Spokane County, or along the Pend Oreille River. WDFW staff and volunteers are capturing geese in these areas to mark them with white neck-collars and metal leg-bands as part of an eastern Washington study to determine if the urban geese are resident or migratory. For more details on this study, see http://bit.ly/bZ5dEo. If you see a goose wearing a white neck collar with a number and letter code, you can report it, with the location and date, to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Lab at 1-800-327-BAND or at http://bit.ly/djemGf.

WDFW’s W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman said four new bighorn sheep lambs have been seen with their ewes between Cummings Creek and Deer Lake on the Tucannon Fish Hatchery ridge. “There also have been several reports of black bear sightings on the area, and more moose sightings up around Camp Wooten and the Little Tucannon River,” she said.

Dingman says all visitors to the area are finding everything very green and lush, thanks to recent rains. But that ample vegetation will be fuel for wild fires soon, so she reminds visitors, including Fourth-of-July holiday celebrants, to comply with the area’s restrictions on fires and ban on fireworks. All WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites throughout the region are under the same fireworks ban and similar fire restrictions. For details by area, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/.

In Lincoln County, WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area staff and fishermen recently spotted about eight white pelicans at Z Lake. Meanwhile, colorful songbirds are visible and audible throughout the region as the nesting season is in full swing. Birders in Spokane County report black-headed grosbeaks, western bluebirds, yellow and yellow-rumped warblers, willow flycatchers, western wood-pewees, common yellowthroats, spotted towhees, Bullock’s orioles, Lazuli buntings, and northern rough-winged, violet-green, and tree swallows. 

[pagebreak:Northcentral Washington]

Fishing: Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist, said lowland lake fishing for rainbow trout has been holding up pretty well in the Okanogan district. “Cooler, wetter weather has been keeping the water temperatures down a bit, and that has contributed to better than average catch rates for the month of June,” he said.

Jateff said good selective-gear waters are Chopaka, Aeneas, and Blue lakes in the Sinlahekin, and Big and Little Twin lakes near Winthrop. Other waters that are still providing decent fishing are Wannacut, Pearrygin, and Alta lakes.

WDFW Enforcement Officer Cal Treser recently reported checking numerous limits of trout on Lake Pearrygin, along with large crayfish. “If you want to try spiny ray fishing, fish Patterson Lake in the Winthrop area for yellow perch and Leader Lake west of Okanogan for bluegills and crappies,” he said.

Jateff also noted the Methow River is still running high, but as water levels start dropping, resident rainbow and cutthroat trout will be catchable. Smaller creeks and rivers can provide fishing opportunities even when the major rivers like the Methow are still running high. “Anglers should pay close attention to the regulations on the Methow because there have been a few changes this year,” he said.

Chinook salmon fishing on the mainstem Columbia River and selected tributaries above Wells Dam is scheduled to start July 1. New daily bag limits put in place this year will allow anglers to keep up to three adult chinook salmon, but only one of those can be a wild adult. Anglers should consult the current sportfishing rules pamphlet, because there are certain areas that anti-snagging and night closure rules are in effect.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.

Wildlife viewing: WDFW research scientist Gary Koehler recently discovered three lynx kittens while tracking a radio-collared adult female lynx in the North Cascades of western Okanogan County. To minimize disturbance to this federally protected species, the kittens were not handled or marked. But Koehler’s photograph is documentation that lynx are still reproducing in Washington.

Matt Monda, WDFW regional wildlife program manager, reminds wildlife enthusiasts and all outdoor recreationists to look at but don’t touch wildlife – including the more common species like mule deer. “Does know best how to care for their fawns,” Monda said. “The best way to help wildlife families is to give them some space.” For more information about living with wildlife, including fawns and baby birds, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/.

Birdwatchers may spot Canada geese with new ornamentation near the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake, or Coulee City. WDFW staff and volunteers captured geese in these areas to mark them with white neck-collars and metal leg-bands as part of an eastern Washington study to determine if such urban geese are resident or migratory. For more details on this study, see http://bit.ly/bZ5dEo. If you see a goose wearing a white neck-collar with a number and letter code, you can report it, with the location and date, to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Lab at 1-800-327-BAND or at http://bit.ly/djemGf.

Black bears continue to be more than just visible in the north end of the region. From Wenatchee to Oroville, some bears have been trying to help themselves to everything from garbage to campground barbecues. WDFW enforcement officers and wildlife biologists remind both homeowners and recreationists in bear country to keep temptation away from these omnivores. At home that can include securing compost piles, removing bird feeders, and keeping pet food inside. In camp or at picnic grounds store food supplies in bear-proof containers and clean up grills. For more tips on living with bears, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/bears.htm.

Wherever wildlife viewing is enjoyed, WDFW officials remind recreationists to be careful with fire. Recent and abundant rain means lush vegetation can become wildfire fuel. All WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites throughout the region are under a fireworks ban and campfire restrictions. For details by area, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/. 

[pagebreak:Southcentral Washington]

Fishing: High water contributed to a slow start in the fishery for hatchery summer chinook salmon on the Columbia River downriver from Priest Rapids Dam and for hatchery steelhead downstream from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco. None of the 60 anglers surveyed in the John Day Pool had caught any salmon or steelhead, although fishing was good for other species.

During the week ending June 20, anglers fishing the John Day Pool caught 259 shad from 15 boats and 15 bass and seven walleye from 10 boats.

“The Columbia, Snake, Yakima and Walla Walla rivers are all running high, improving some fisheries, such as catfish, but making most of the fisheries, especially salmon, problematic,” said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Pasco.

Hoffarth is optimistic that fishing will pick up for salmon and steelhead as river conditions improve and more summer chinook move past McNary Dam into the mid-Columbia and its tributaries.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that all wild, unmarked chinook salmon and steelhead must be released. The daily limit is six hatchery chinook, up to two of which may be adults. Anglers must stop fishing once they retain the adult portion of their daily limit. Any steelhead retained counts toward the daily limit of two adult fish, Hoffarth said.

Steelhead fishing will remain closed for the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 bridge and in the Snake River until the fall.

The spring chinook fishery runs through June 30 on the Yakima, and anglers continue to catch fish in the area between Union Gap and Roza Dam. Surveys indicate that the best fishing is between the Naches River and Roza Dam. There is a daily limit of two hatchery salmon with a clipped adipose fin; wild chinook must be released unharmed.

Water levels in the upper Naches and upper Yakima tributaries are continuing to drop and clear up. Eric Anderson, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Yakima, said his trend should continue in the weeks ahead into the summer months, when fishing in most tributaries should be good for wild trout, cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout.

Even though waters in the Columbia and Snake rivers remain high, fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye should improve as those waters recede and get warmer, Anderson said.

Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. Be aware, sturgeon fishing is prohibited from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam in the Snake River and upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam in the Columbia River (white sturgeon sanctuaries).

Anderson reminds anglers that most streams have reduced catch and size limits for trout. In addition, there are catch-and-release zones on the Yakima River above Roza Dam, in sections of the Naches River and in Rattlesnake Creek where all trout must be released unharmed. In most large mainstem rivers and streams in the Yakima basin, anglers must use single barbless hooks and no bait.

Lake fishing in Central Washington remains strong, and WDFW is continuing to stock many lakes in the days leading up to the long Fourth of July weekend. Alpine lakes are also an option in the weeks ahead.

“The high country is starting to open up as the snow levels recede,” said Anderson. “There are many excellent opportunities to fish high mountain lakes, most of which are hike- to only.”

Information on high lake stocking in Yakima and Kittitas counties can be obtained from the website link at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/regions/reg3/r3_highlakes.htm. Anglers need to check directly with WDFW’s regional offices for high lake fish stocking information in other areas.

Meanwhile, kokanee are biting at Keechelus and Rimrock lakes. While they generally run small (9-11 inches), Anderson points out that anglers can keep up to 16 of them daily.

Powerline Lake and Marmes Pond were planted with rainbow trout earlier this spring, but Hoffarth said the cooler temperatures this spring should keep the bite going for a couple more weeks. Both of these lakes are walk-in only.

Jumbo triploid trout are being planted at Lost Lake in Kittitas County, as well as in Dog and Leech lakes in Yakima County. These fish are running about 1.5 pounds each. Leech Lake is fly-fishing only. Also in June, 4,500 catchable-size trout and 200 jumbos are being planted in Easton Pond in Kittitas County.

Other recent lake stocking reports can be checked at the WDFW website http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/stocking/weekly/

WDFW advises anglers to always check the fishing rules pamphlet for details on a specific river or stream, including what gear is allowed and catch limits. The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules guide is available free at stores that sell fishing licenses. The pamphlet also can be downloaded at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/index.html. That web page also contains a link to emergency rules that have been enacted since the pamphlet was published.

Hunting: WDFW has published this year’s special hunt drawing results. Hunters can find out how they fared in the lottery by going to http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/ and typing in their 11 digit WILD ID number.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.

Wildlife viewing: The “Great Washington State Birding Trail” pamphlet published by Washington Audubon highlights six prime routes, and two of them are in Central Washington. The Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway is to the north, and the Sun & Sage Loop stretches from the juncture of state highways 123 and 410 on the west to Walla Walla on the eastern edge of the loop. The Columbia River marks the southern boundary.

Within that loop is WDFW’s Wenas Wildlife Area, which is located southwest of Ellensburg in both Yakima and Kittitas counties. The area includes parts of the upper Wenas Valley which is considered an Audubon Important Bird Area. Among the birds you can view there are yellow breasted chat, bobolinks, white pelican and horned lark.

The riparian areas in particular provide glimpses of eastern kingbird, tree, violet-green and other species of swallows, gray catbird, yellow warbler, black-headed grosbeak, Lazuli bunting, Bullock’s oriole and many others.

Forestland at higher elevations host red-naped sapsucker, downy and white-headed woodpeckers, western wood pewee, mountain chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, house wren, veery, warbling vireo, Nashville, yellow and MacGillivray’s warblers, red crossbill, and western and mountain bluebirds. In the shrub-steppe habitat look for horned lark, sage thrasher, Brewer’s and vesper sparrows and loggerhead shrike.

Audubon Washington has produced colorful and informative maps for all six trails. The maps feature drawings of the birds likely to be encountered on the trails and locations of the wildlife viewing areas and points of interest. Each map costs $4.95 and can be purchased at: http://wa.audubon.org/birds_GreatWABirdingTrail.html. Viewed online, the maps include links to information about all of the wilderness areas and the birds that can be viewed there.

Be aware that no matter where in Central and Eastern Washington you go this time of year you’re likely to encounter animals that are considerably larger, and potentially more dangerous than birds. To minimize the chance of a bad experience, avoid surprising wildlife, don’t feed wild animals and keep your distance so that they can go about their business, providing you with a glimpse into how they live when humans aren’t around.

For more information, WDFW’s “Living With Wildlife” series is available at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/.

WDFW biologists are asking hunters and hikers to keep an eye out for Canada geese that have been banded as part of an ongoing effort to track their movements, their lifespan and how they use rural and urban habitat.

This is the third consecutive year of the study. As in past years, WDFW is asking waterfowl hunters and hikers to report leg band information if they harvest or encounter a marked goose. The highly visible collars can be reported by any observer.

Reports of band or collar codes, along with locations and dates, should be made to U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory at 1-800-327-BAND, or online at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/call800.htm

Opening day of lake-fishing season expected to draw 300,000 anglers

[pagebreak:WDFW Weekender Report]

A Washington freshwater fishing license, valid April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011, costs $26.00 for resident adults (16-69 years old). Fifteen-year-olds and persons with disabilities can buy a license for $11, and seniors (70 years and older) can buy an annual fishing license for $8.00. Children 14 years and younger do not need a fishing license.

A new two-pole endorsement – which allows anglers to fish with two rods in most lakes – costs an additional $24.50 for adults; $6.50 for seniors.

All licenses can be purchased on the Internet ( http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov ), by telephone (1-866-246-9453), or at hundreds of license dealers across the state (listed on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors ).

Tips on fishing areas, listed by county and water, can be found in "Washington Fishing Prospects: Where To Catch Fish In the Evergreen State," available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects . Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the 2010 Hatchery Trout Stocking Plan on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants .

Copies of WDFW’s annual "Fishing In Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet are also available from license dealers, WDFW offices and on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm . The current rules are in effect through April 30, 2010; the rules for May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2011 will be posted and available in printed form by May 1.

Rather catch spring chinook? The fishery in the lower Columbia River is set to close at the end of the day April 18, but anglers will still be able to retain hatchery-raised spring chinook above Bonneville Dam and in tributaries to the big river. In addition, four areas of the Snake River will open for springers later this month. (See the regional report for Eastern Washington below for details on that opening.)

Other new fishing seasons coming up in the days ahead include openings May 1 for shrimp and halibut. A three-day razor-razor clam dig also gets under way April 16 on the coast. See the South Puget Sound/Olympic Peninsula report below for more information on all three of those fisheries.

[pagebreak:North Puget Sound]

Fishing: The blackmouth salmon season is winding down in the region, but halibut fisheries in Puget Sound are coming up soon. For freshwater anglers, one of the most anticipated fishing opportunities occurs later this April, when the lowland lakes trout season kicks off.

Beginning April 24, anglers can cast a line in many of the region’s lakes, where thousands of legal-sized trout have been planted. Information on stocking schedules for rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout is available on WDFW’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants ).

"This is our biggest fishing season opener and it traditionally draws more than 300,000 anglers of all ages," said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. "It’s a good time to gather family and friends at local waterways to cast off winter and celebrate spring."

Because the lowland lake trout opener traditionally draws the biggest crowds, it’s especially important for everyone to be patient and safe at boat launches and docks, Anderson noted. "Everyone in boats, and all children on shore, should use personal flotation devices," he added.

This year’s opener offers a new opportunity for lake fishers. Anglers may purchase a 2-pole endorsement which allows them to fish with two rods in most of Washington’s lakes. Gear rules and daily limits still apply. Many anglers will see the use of two poles as a way to double their fun by using two different types of tackle, or fishing at two different depths. Go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole/lakes.php for a list of lakes where two poles are not allowed.

On the saltwater, selective fisheries for hatchery blackmouth – resident chinook – continue through April 15 in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet), and through April 30 in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner). Anglers fishing in any of those areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

The halibut season is just around the corner. The season is scheduled to run from May 1 through May 30 in marine areas 6-10, where fishing will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when those marine areas will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Current regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries are available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

Hunting: The spring wild turkey season runs April 15 through May 31 around the state. Hunters have a three-gobbler limit – two birds in eastern Washington and one bird in western Washington. For more information, a Wild Turkey Spring Season brochure is available at WDFW regional offices and on the department’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/turkey ).

There’s still time to comment on a draft plan to guide management of the state’s white-tailed deer populations. Developed by WDFW over the past year, the five-year plan outlines strategies for sustainably managing the game animals throughout their range in eastern Washington. Other key goals include maintaining stable deer-hunting opportunities for state citizens and reducing deer-related damage to crops and other personal property.

The draft plan, along with an electronic comment form, is posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/white-tailed_deer . Public comments will be accepted through April 23 before a final plan is reviewed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and forwarded to the WDFW director for approval.

Wildlife viewing : Gray whale sightings continue to draw whalewatchers to the region. The large marine mammals have been milling about the Whidbey and Camano islands area the last several weeks during their annual journey north. Most of the whales are headed to the Arctic Ocean, where they spend the summer feeding, before heading back south to the coast of Mexico. Some gray whales stop short of migrating all the way to the Arctic and instead linger in the waters of the Pacific Northwest during the summer months. For information on whale sightings, visit the Orca Network website at http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html .

Meanwhile, birdwatchers have an opportunity to take part in the "Wings Over Water" Northwest Birding Festival April 17 in Blaine. The festival features wildlife viewing field trips, arts and crafts, speakers, raptor presentations, and activities and games for children. For more information visit Blaine’s Chamber of Commerce website at http://www.blainechamber.com/wow .

[pagebreak:South Sound/Olympic Peninsula]

Fishing: Anglers have so many options this time of year that they should consider taking time off from whatever less important activity keeps them off the water. Freshly stocked lowland lakes will open Saturday, April 24, to an estimated 300,000 anglers, and youth fishing events are in full swing. The halibut and shrimp seasons open beginning May 1, and a morning razor-clam dig begins Friday, April 16, at three Washington beaches.

Regional lakes stocked with thousands of trout await South Sound anglers. Devereaux Lake in Mason County is being stocked with 5,000 rainbows – 500 of them 14 inches or larger. In Clallam County, Sutherland Lake is being stocked with 10,000 rainbows, and Bogachiel Pond will be getting 4,100 rainbows in advance of a Kid’s Day event. Clear, Kapowsin, Spanaway, Tanwax and Ohop lakes in Pierce County also will be getting upwards of 10,000 fish each. Silver Lake will be stocked with over 31,000 fish, 1,300 of them 14 inches or longer. Find WDFW’s stocking schedule by county and lakes here http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants . For tips on fishing options by water and county take a look at Washington Fishing Prospects (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ ).

In Thurston County over 600 kids are expected to show up Saturday, April 17, for the Kids’ Klassic Family Fish-in at Woodland Creek Community Park. Registration for the event is closed. The next South Sound Kids’ Fish-In event will be held Saturday, May 15, at American Lake in Lakewood. Advanced registration is required. To register go to Go Play Outside Washington’s web site (http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program ) and download a registration form.

Meanwhile, people looking forward to digging razor clams can do so at the following times and beaches:

Friday, April 16, (8:32 A.M., -0.7) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
Saturday, April 17, (9:12 A.M., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
Sunday, April 18, (9:56 A.M., -0.6) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
All of the digs start in the morning and end at noon. WDFW also has announced a tentative razor-clam dig for late April and early May. A final decision on the dig will be based on tests for marine toxins to determine if the clams are safe to eat.

Prospective clammers who live north of Lacey should be forewarned that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 will make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that repairs to the highway between Lacey and Tacoma will close north and soundbound lanes between now and September, resulting in traffic backups that could stretch for miles. For a schedule of closures go to WSDOT’s website (http://bit.ly/dgnuQy ).

Two other fisheries scheduled to open soon are halibut and shrimp .

The 2010 recreational halibut season – which starts May 1 off Ilwaco and May 2 off Westport – will be cut a little short this year. The largest single factor affecting this year’s fishery is a 15 percent reduction in the Pacific coast halibut quota set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, said Michele Culver, a WDFW regional director. In Washington, sport anglers will be allowed to catch 192,699 pounds of halibut, compared to 214,110 pounds last year.

Constraints on fishing opportunities will be most apparent in Puget Sound, due to the combination of this year’s reduced quota and an excessive catch last year. WDFW estimates that Puget Sound anglers caught more than 114,000 pounds of halibut in 2009 – well over the 57,393-pound quota.

Opening for Washington’s marine areas are:

Columbia River (Ilwaco): Marine Area 1 will open May 1, three days a week, Thursday through Saturday until 70 percent of the quota is reached, or through July 18. The fishery will then reopen on Aug. 6 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday) until the remaining quota is reached, or the end of the day on Sept. 26, whichever occurs first. The 2010 catch quota is 13,436 pounds.
South Coast (Westport/Ocean Shores): Marine Area 2 will open on May 2, two days a week, Sundays and Tuesdays. During the fourth week in May the fishery will be open Sunday only (May 23). Beginning the following week the fishery will resume the Sunday, Tuesday structure until the quota is reached. The northern nearshore area will be open seven days per week, until the quota is reached. The 2010 catch quota is 35,887 pounds.
North Coast (La Push/Neah Bay): Marine areas 3 and 4 will open on May 13, two days per week, Thursdays and Saturdays, through May 22. If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will reopen June 3 and 5. If sufficient quota remains after that opener, the fishery will reopen starting June 17. The 2010 catch quota is 101,179 pounds.
Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be open May 28 through June 19. Marine areas 6 through 10 (Strait, Port Angeles Admiralty Inlet and Everett) will be open May 1 through May 30. These fisheries will be open three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 2010 combined catch quota for these areas is 50,542 pounds.
Shrimp seasons open May 1 in all marine areas and for most species. The length of the season varies by area. The rules and dates for shrimping will be published in the state’s annual Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which comes out later this month. Information is available now at WDFW’s recreational shrimp page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/shrimpreg/shrimpindex.shtml ).

One change from previous years is that Discovery Bay will be open to shrimping for the first time since 2005, when it was closed due to low abundance. The Bay will be open at least two days, May 1 and May 5.

Out on the coast, fishing for lingcod , rockfish and other species is beginning to pick up. After a few weeks of terrible ocean conditions, boats were finally able to get out of Westport late last week.

"After having to cancel about 10 days in a row the ocean has finally laid down," said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler. "Charter boats are back to targeting rockfish and lingcod. A few charters got their limits of lingcod over the weekend, with some in the mid to upper 20 pound range."

The lingcod season opens on Friday, April 17 in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).

Crust reminds anglers that recreational fishing for bottomfish or lingcod is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) from March 15 through June 15. However, anglers may retain sablefish and Pacific cod in these waters from May 1 through June 15. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all areas.

The minimum size for lingcod in marine areas 1-3 is 22 inches, while the minimum size in Marine Area 4 is 24 inches. All areas are open seven days a week. Additional information about the lingcod fishery and other bottomfish is available on the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500 or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

It’s a good thing these other fisheries are picking up because steelhead and salmon fisheries have been slow. A creel check counted conducted at boat ramps in Port Angeles and Port Townsend counted 11 chinook April 10. Elsewhere, there were few anglers and even fewer fish taken.

Creelers checked only about a dozen wild steelhead on the Lower and Upper Hoh River during the second weekend in April, and creel counts ended April 1 on the Quillayute system. Retention fishing closes at the end of the day April 15 on the Hoh River, but will remain open through April 30 on the Quillayute River system.

To take advantage of all these opportunities, anyone 15 years and older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license. Licenses can be purchased on-line at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov , by phone (866) 246-9453, or in person at more than 600 license vendors throughout the state. A list of vendors is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors . Updates on the razor clam season are at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/razorclm/season.htm

Hunting: The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new hunting rules at its meeting last weekend. New hunting rules reflect changes in game populations since the current three-year plan was adopted last year. They include:

Reducing antlerless elk hunting in the Yakima area.
Reducing antlerless deer hunting in northeast Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.
Providing additional permits for spring black bear hunting and delaying start dates for fall black bear hunting in some areas.
Increasing permit hunting for cougar in southeast Washington.
Changing the fall turkey hunt in southeast Washington from a limited permit-only hunt to a general hunt.
Along with the new hunting rules, the commission also approved a new application system for special-hunt permits that will give hunters more options by allowing them to apply for deer and elk permits in several different categories. The system applies "points" accrued by unsuccessful permit applicants from previous years to each of the new permit categories.

The amended hunting rules, which take effect May 1, will be included in WDFW’s new Big Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available by late April at license dealers, WDFW offices, and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html .

The spring wild turkey season runs April 15 through May 31 around the state. For more information, a Wild Turkey Spring Season brochure is available at WDFW regional offices and on the department’s website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/turkey .

Wildlife viewing: For those interested in spring bird watching, the 15th annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival will be held April 30 through May 2. This event takes place during the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds as they stop at the Grays Harbor estuary to feed and rest before departing for their nesting grounds in the Arctic. For more information, visit http://www.shorebirdfestival.com/ or call (800) 303-8498.

[pagebreak:Southwest Washington]

Fishing: Columbia River anglers have been reeling in over 1,400 spring chinook salmon per day during the first full week of April, raising questions about how long the lower river would remain open to fishing. After some deliberation, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed that the fishery below the I-5 Bridge will remain open as planned through Sunday, April 18.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the last day to catch spring chinook on the lower river this year. In establishing this year’s season, fishery managers set aside a "buffer" until this year’s near-record run forecast of 470,000 upriver fish can be verified by dam counts. If the count looks good, WDFW will announce additional fishing time in early to mid-May, said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator.

"At this point, the upriver run is definitely looking strong, but we’ll have to see how the count at Bonneville Dam shakes out over the next few weeks," LeFleur said. "After our experience during the past two years, we need to make sure that the forecast is on track before we reopen the fishery."

So what’s an angler to do between now and then? Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist, has some ideas:

Fish a tributary: Anglers are picking up spring chinook in the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis rivers, although winter-run steelhead are still providing most of the action on the Cowlitz. Thirty-one boat anglers reported catching 23 hatchery steelhead (plus one released) and one adult spring chinook in a recent creel check focused around the trout hatchery and Blue Creek. The 47 bank anglers surveyed had two hatchery steelhead and three springers.
Meanwhile, summer steelhead also are moving into several tributaries to the lower Columbia – including the lower Washougal and East Fork Lewis rivers. Both of those rivers open for fishing April 16 under selective gear rules (no bait). Check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ) for catch limits and other regulations applicable to these rivers.

Head upriver: Time may be running short for spring chinook fishing on the lower Columbia River, but the fishery from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam is scheduled to remain open seven days a week through May. With upwards of 1,000 fish per day now moving up the fish ladders, anglers fishing the mainstem above Bonneville are starting to catch some spring chinook. Bank fishing only is permitted from Bonneville Dam to Tower Island powerlines, located about six miles below The Dalles Dam.
Boat anglers at Wind and Drano Lake have also been taking a few springers, while bank anglers fishing the Klickitat River downstream from Fisher Hill Bridge have been catching newly arriving summer steelhead. Drano Lake is closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through May. Also, effective April 16, bank fishing only will be allowed west of a line projected from the eastern-most pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore of the lake. Check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ) for catch limits and other regulations applicable to these waters.

Dig some razor clams: Diggers recently got a green light to proceed with a morning razor-clam dig running Friday, April 16, through Sunday April 18, at Long Beach and Twin Harbors. Kalaloch Beach, further north will also open for digging April 17-18. Low morning tides will be at 8:32 a.m. (-0.7) April 16, at 9:12 a.m. (-0.7) April 17, and at 9:56 a.m. (-0.6) April 18. No digging will be allowed after noon any of those days.
Diggers are reminded that they must have a valid 2010-11 license to participate in the dig. Fishing and hunting licenses may be purchased by phone (1-866-246-9453), over the Internet ( https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ ), or from license vendors throughout the state (see http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors for a list).

Catch some trout: Hundreds of lowland lakes open for trout fishing April 24 throughout the state, drawing tens of thousands of anglers out for their first cast of the year. While most lakes in southwest Washington are open year-round, "opening day" does mark the start of trout fishing in such perennial favorites as Mineral Lake (Lewis County), Swift Reservoir (Skamania County) and Rowland Lakes (Klickitat County).
Meanwhile, WDFW recently stocked several year-round lakes with catchable-size rainbows, some weighing up to a half-pound apiece: South Lewis County Park Pond near Toledo (3,042 fish), Lake Sacajawea in Longview (3,016 fish), Kress Lake in Kalama (2,067 fish) and Lacamas Lake in Camas (3,500 fish). A complete trout-stocking schedule for all lakes in Washington is posted on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants .
Hunting: The spring wild turkey season runs April 15 through May 31 around the state. For more information, a Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet is available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/turkey .

Meanwhile, hunters have an opportunity to comment on a draft plan to guide management of the state’s white-tailed deer populations. Developed by WDFW over the past year, the five-year plan outlines strategies for sustainably managing the game animals throughout their range in eastern Washington. Other key goals include maintaining stable deer-hunting opportunities for state citizens and reducing deer-related damage to crops and other personal property.

The draft plan, along with an electronic comment form, is posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/white-tailed_deer . Public comments will be accepted through April 23 before a final plan is reviewed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and forwarded to the WDFW director for approval.

Wildlife viewing: With the arrival of spring, the Vancouver Lowlands have come to resemble Grand Central Station, enlivened by great movements of birds in and out of key nesting and resting areas. Several thousand Canada geese are now on display at the Shillapoo Wildlife Area, although thousands more have already flown west down the Columbia River, leaving their wintering grounds for points north.

"The birds seem to follow the Columbia to the ocean, then turn north to Canada and Alaska," said Sandra Jonker, WDFW wildlife manager for southwest Washington. Meanwhile, osprey have returned to the region, inspecting their nests and preparing for the breeding season. In recent weeks, birders and anglers have reported sighting osprey from marshlands near Vancouver to the Cowlitz River.

Birds aren’t the only species in transit these days. More than 3,500 spring chinook salmon passed by the fish-viewing window at Bonneville Dam in a single day, and thousands more are right behind them.

To monitor daily fish counts from home, check the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/fishdata/home.asp . Or stop by the Washington Shore Visitor Complex and see the annual parade of fish for yourself. To get there, take Washington State Highway 14 east to Milepost 40 (about 5 miles from Stevenson) and turn into the Bonneville Dam visitor center. The visitor center is the glass building at the end of the powerhouse.

[pagebreak:Eastern Washington]

Fishing: April 24 marks the start of the most popular fishing season in Washington, including dozens of trout-stocked lakes in this region. It is also the opening day of spring chinook season on three sections of the Snake River, where fishing will be expanded this year. Daily catch limits will also be raised, thanks to the abundance of hatchery chinook expected to return.

In all, four sections of the Snake will open to spring chinook fishing this year – starting April 20 with the stretch starting just below Ice Harbor Dam on the Walla Walla/Franklin county line, just east of the Tri-Cities. That section of the Snake River runs from the southbound Highway 12 Bridge upstream about seven miles to the fishing-restriction boundary, about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.

The three sections of the Snake that open April 24 are:

From Railroad Bridge, about half-mile downstream of the Tucannon River mouth, up about nine miles to the Corps of Engineers boat launch (about a mile upstream of Little Goose Dam along the south shore). This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility);
From Casey Creek upstream about six miles to the fishery restriction area below Lower Granite Dam; and
From Blyton Landing Boat Launch along the Snake River Road in Whitman County (about 12 miles upstream of Lower Granite Dam) upstream about 19 miles to the boat dock behind the Quality Inn in Clarkston (boundary line is from the white sign for Hells Canyon Tours (about 100 ft upstream of the boat dock that has the small green roofed shed on the south shore) across to the culvert with tanks and trailers on the north shore).
Only adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults or jacks can be retained in these fisheries. Chinook harvest or retention is limited to two adults and four jacks per day. One exception is the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility – including the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility – where the daily catch limit is one jack and one adult.

The minimum size of any retained chinook is 12 inches. Jacks are less than 24 inches long. The adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. Fishing must cease as soon as the adult chinook daily limit is retained. All chinook with the adipose fin intact, and all steelhead, must be immediately released unharmed.

All of these chinook fisheries will run through June 30, unless catch rates warrant an earlier closure. See all details at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ .

Meanwhile, the April 24 lake opener should provide lots of catch limits at most of the traditionally popular trout-fishing waters throughout the region. Some of the best are in Spokane, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties where WDFW fish hatchery crews have been especially busy stocking rainbow , cutthroat , brown , eastern brook , and tiger trout . (All details of fish stocking by water by county are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants and complete information about all lakes is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ .)

WDFW central district fish biologist Chris Donley of Spokane expects that Badger and Williams lakes in southwest Spokane County will again be among the top producers. Both rainbow and cutthroat trout to 18 inches will be available. Although both should be excellent on the opener, the Mayfly hatch in mid-May is usually the peak fishing time for these waters.

Donley also predicts West Medical Lake, just west of the town of Medical Lake in southwest Spokane County, will be one of the best opening-day trout lakes in the state. West Medical has been stocked with fry, catchable-size, broodstock and triploid rainbow trout, so catches will run the gamut size-wise.

Fish Lake, northeast of Cheney, should provide excellent fishing on stocked brook and tiger trout on the opener and throughout the season. Two years ago the state record tiger trout, over 14 pounds, was harvested from this lake.

Clear Lake, south of the town of Medical Lake, is also expected to see good action on stocked yearling rainbow, broodstock rainbows, and brown trout. Donley notes that Clear also has good largemouth bass and black crappie fisheries.

Chapman Lake, south of Cheney, usually provides good catches of rainbow trout and kokanee on the opener, but it’s best known for late-season action on largemouth and smallmouth bass and other warm water species.

Amber Lake, southwest of Cheney, which opened March 1 as a catch-and-release fishery, shifts to a harvest fishery on April 24. Amber is under selective gear rules and a two fish over 14 inches limit, designed to maintain a quality rainbow and cutthroat trout fishery. Anglers must release all trout with missing adipose fin – only unmarked trout may be retained as part of the legal limit.

Donley expects Fishtrap Lake, on the Spokane-Lincoln county line, to be among the best opening-day trout lakes in the state. Fishtrap has fry planted rainbow trout, with larger carryover, broodstock and triploid rainbows available.

Deer or Deer Springs Lake, northeast of Odessa in Lincoln County, has annual fry and catchable-size rainbow trout plants, along with some brown trout. The access area can be muddy early in the season, but it could provide decent catches on the opener. Fishing for yellow perch and black crappie can be good, too.

WDFW northeast district fish biologist Bill Baker of Colville expects good performance starting April 24 from a number of Pend Oreille and Stevens county fisheries, many which lie on national forestlands, some with campgrounds.

In Pend Oreille County, Davis Lake, south of Usk, has good early and late season fishing for rainbow and eastern brook trout, kokanee, largemouth bass, and sunfish. Diamond Lake, southwest of Newport, has a cooperative net pen project that releases 12,500 rainbow trout, in addition to WDFW hatchery-stocked catchable-size rainbows and browns. This year, 950 larger triploid and a few broodstock rainbows have been added to Diamond, which also offers action on largemouth bass, yellow perch, and bullheads. Frater Lake, southwest of Ione, should be good for planted cutthroat trout since it was rehabilitated in the fall of 2008 to eliminate illegally introduced tench and pumpkinseed sunfish. Big Meadow Lake, west of Ione, should provide 10-15-inch rainbows from annual spring fry plants.

Other Pend Oreille County lakes that open April 24 and are well stocked with rainbows and/or cutthroat trout include the North and South Skookum lakes, northwest of Usk; Browns Lake northeast of Cusick (fly-fishing only, all motors are prohibited); Carl’s Lake, southwest of Tiger; Crescent Lake, north of Metaline Falls, Fan Lake, northeast of Deer Park; Halfmoon Lake, northeast of Usk; Horseshoe Lake, northwest of Elk; Ledbetter Lake, north of Metaline Falls; Leo Lake, southwest of Ione; Marshall Lake, northwest of Newport; Mystic Lake, east of Usk; Nile Lake, southwest of Ione; and Sacheen Lake, southwest of Newport along Highway SR-21.

Yocum Lake, another popular Pend Oreille County lake that opens April 24, has some access limitations early in the season. Lying north of Ruby, across the Pend Oreille River and up LeClerc Creek Road, Yocum has road access on both its north and south ends. But the south road is not available until after May 30 due to road protection efforts by Simpson Lumber Company. A Forest Service road to the north end of the lake provides an alternative route, but it is not suitable for trailers.

In Stevens County, three popular lakes open April 24 for a short catch-and-keep season (through May 31) under selective gear rules – Bayley Lake northeast of Chewelah, Rocky Lake south of Colville, and Starvation Lake southeast of Colville. Both receive annual rainbow trout fry plants that should provide excellent catches before they shift to catch-and-release fishing June 1.

Potter’s Pond, north of Colville on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, usually grows large trout from rainbow plants. Baker notes, however, it nearly went dry last fall, so there are no larger carryover fish this year and anglers can only expect fair numbers of 8-10 inch trout.

Waitts Lake, west of Valley along Highway US-395 with a newly improved access area, has seen an increase of rainbow and brown trout plants from a net-pen project, so there’s good carryover potential. Largemouth bass, yellow perch, and numerous pumpkinseed sunfish are available as well.

McDowell Lake, southeast of Colville on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, opens April 24 for fly-fishing only and catch-and-release and should provide good angling on large rainbows. McDowell was rehabilitated in the fall of 2006 to eliminate tench and restocked with various rainbow age classes in the spring of 2007.

The Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes northeast of Colville near the Pend Oreille county line – including Gillette, Heritage, Sherry and Thomas – usually produce decent catches of rainbow and tiger trout throughout the season.

Other Stevens County waters that open April 24 that could be good destinations are Cedar Lake, north of Leadpoint; Mudget Lake, south of Fruitland; Black Lake, east of Colville; Deep Lake, southeast of Northport; Elbow Lake, west of Northport; Jump-Off-Joe Lake, south of Chewelah; Little Twin Lake, east of Colville; Loon Lake, northwest of Deer Park; and Summit Lake, northeast of Orient.

A traditional favorite for the opener in Ferry County is Ellen Lake, north of Inchelium, on the Colville National Forest, and it should produce especially well this year. Baker explained that Ellen was rehabilitated in fall 2008 and re-stocked with rainbow trout catchables and fry, so anglers can expect good numbers of fair-sized fish and an occasional larger carryover on the opener.

Long Lake, southwest of Republic, in the Scatter Creek drainage on the Colville National Forest, opens April 24 for fly-fishing only on fry-planted cutthroat trout.

Other good bets in Ferry County for the opener, depending on road access conditions, are Davis Lake, northwest of Boyds; Swan Lake, southwest of Republic; Trout Lake, west of Kettle Falls; Empire and Ward lakes, north of Republic; and Renner Lake, west of Barstow.

In the southeast end of the region, Hood Park Pond in Walla Walla County closes to fishing April 16 – at least for anglers 15 years of age and older. A youth fishing event, coordinated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, takes place at Hood Park Pond on April 17. WDFW hatchery crews will stock trout for the event on April 16, so the closure is to prevent premature harvest of trout dedicated to the kids. Hood Park Pond will re-open to all fishing at 1 p.m. April 17.

Youngsters can still be registered for the "Kids Fish-In" event scheduled for May 1 on Clear Lake in southwest Spokane County. For $5, kids 5 to 14 years of age can fish and catch up to three trout, and receive a t-shirt and rod and reel. Registration forms are available at WDFW’s Spokane Valley office, 2315 N. Discovery Place, or on-line at www.gopaw.org . The event is co-sponsored by the Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington, Fairchild Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation program, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club, Spokane Fly Fishers, Spokane Walleye Club, White Elephant Stores, Zebco and Eagle Claw.

Hunting: With about 80 percent of Washington’s wild turkey harvest in this region, the spring wild turkey hunting season opener April 15 is huge here. Hundreds of turkey hunters, donning camouflage and using calls, will be afield through May 31.

WDFW officials remind turkey hunters to be safe and ethical. Avoid using gobbler calls, never presume what you hear is a turkey, be sure of targets, select calling sites with vision in all directions, don’t wear red, white or blue clothing (the colors of gobblers’ heads at this time of year), don’t attempt to stalk turkeys, and always ask permission to hunt private land.

The northeast GMUs 101-136 in Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Lincoln counties should be particularly productive with an abundance of the big birds. The southeast GMUs 139-186 in Whitman, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin counties, traditionally produce the second-highest harvest.

Remember that turkey hunting tag-holders must report hunting activity after the seasons and harvest should be reported within 10 days of taking a turkey. For all the rules, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/game_species/turkey .

Over one-third of Washington’s spring black bear hunting permits are in this region. Permit-holders will be afield after black bears during the April 15 – May 31 season. For all the rules, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/game_species/bear_cougar .

Another kind of popular "hunting" in the spring is for the shed antlers of deer and elk. WDFW biologists say deer, elk and other wildlife are still "winter-weary" and should not be unduly disturbed during the increasingly popular quest for "sheds."

WDFW ungulate research biologist Woody Myers says these native ungulates are foraging day-long on newly-sprouted grasses and forbs in grasslands, pastures, low or mid elevation forest meadows, and other open areas of southern exposure.

"They’re just now finding the opportunity to reverse the energy deficit they’ve been in all winter," Myers said. "Plus, the does and cows are entering their third trimester of pregnancy, a time of increased energy demands. Any disturbance now might mean the difference between life and death for both adults and youngsters yet to be born. Adults can still be lost as a result of starvation this spring and weight at birth has been correlated to fawn and calf survival."

WDFW wildlife biologist Paul Wik says the Blue Mountains area, for example, sees far too much accidental and intentional bumping and chasing of animals at this time, along with trespassing, traveling in winter closures, and traveling behind locked gates. To protect wildlife, there is currently a closure to motorized traffic in the Lick Creek Game Management Unit (GMU 175) in Garfield and Asotin counties and closures to all human entry in the Cummings Creek area of WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area that continue through April.

Wildlife viewing: WDFW wildlife biologist David Woodall of Clarkston reports osprey are back in the southeast Washington area now. The fish-eating raptors, which winter in more southern climes, set up housekeeping near the Snake River or its tributaries – good sources of food for parent birds rearing young. "A pair of ospreys have claimed the nesting platform across from the ballfield in Asotin," Woodall said.

Woodall also reports mountain bluebirds and tree swallows are back in the area working on nests. The bluebirds use open, high meadow areas where old tree cavities or man-made nest boxes are available. The swallows are also cavity nesters and will use nest boxes in wooded areas near water.

For details on building and locating cavity-nesting species nestboxes, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/nestboxes.htm .

[pagebreak:Northcentral Washington]

Fishing: WDFW Columbia Basin district fish biologist Chad Jackson of Moses Lake says some of the best and most popular lakes in the state that open April 24 are in Grant County.

"The best of the bunch are the large lakes," Jackson said, "like Park, Blue, Warden, and Deep lakes. But don’t overlook the smaller waters like South Warden, Perch, and Vic Meyers lakes. They offer some excellent fishing, too. "

Jackson says all lakes have been stocked heavily with rainbow trout in preparation for the big opener. Overall, anglers should expect good to excellent fishing for yearling and carryover trout. Catch rates should be around three to four fish per angler at most or all of the opening day lakes.

"Anglers fishing opening day at Warden Lake the last two years have averaged 3.5 fish each," Jackson said. "Warden Lake should fish well again on the opener for fry origin and catchable rainbow trout, now ranging from 11 to 13 inches in length. Carryovers averaged 11.5 percent of the total trout checked in the creel during the last two years and ranged from 15 to 18 inches in length. Hopefully, this trend will occur again for the upcoming opener. Tiger trout are also planted in Warden Lake and should run 12-20 inches by the opener."

South Warden Lake is a much smaller water body at just 24 acres, Jackson says, and those interested in fishing it must make a short hike to the lake from the access site at the south end of Warden Lake. Rainbow trout fry stocked in the spring should average around 12 inches in length. South Warden Lake is best fished from a small hand-carried boat or float tube, but shore fishing can be effective as well.

"Since they were rehabilitated in 2006, Park and Blue lakes have been fishing quite well the past couple years," Jackson said. "Anglers fishing these lakes in 2008 and 2009 averaged near limits of trout, and I expect them to be good again this opening day with three to four trout per angler. Boat anglers usually have higher success than shore anglers at both lakes. Yearling rainbow trout should average a very robust 12 inches with carryovers being at least 15 inches. To sweeten the pot, we’ll be adding a small number of 15 to 20-inch triploid rainbow trout just prior to opening day."

Jackson says Deep Lake is probably the region’s most unpredictable late April opening fishery.

"For some unknown reason," he said, "Deep Lake anglers either average near limits of trout or less than one trout per angler. Hopefully, anglers fishing Deep Lake this year will experience excellent fishing for fry origin and catchable rainbow trout ranging from 11 to 13 inches."

Jackson noted an extra 2,500 catchable rainbow trout and 221 triploids will be planted into Deep Lake just prior to opening day. A total of 5,000 rainbow trout fry and 7,500 catchables were already stocked, plus 40,000 kokanee fry.

"Kokanee can be anywhere from 12 to 16-plus inches," Jackson said, "and they’ll take many of the same fishing gears used to catch rainbow trout. However, the better kokanee fishing usually occurs later in the spring through summer from June through August."

Perch and Vic Meyers lakes are usually pretty constant producers on opening day, Jackson says, both averaging three to four fish per angler. Both are mostly fished from shore, although small hand-carried boats or floats can be used. Yearling trout caught at both fry-stocked lakes usually average around 12 inches in length. The catch rate for carryover trout of 15 inches or greater is considerably better at Vic Meyers Lake.

WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp reports some of the best production trout waters on the April 24 opener are Pearrygin Lake near Winthrop, Conconully Lake and Reservoir and Alta Lake near Brewster, Fish Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, and Wannacut Lake near Oroville.

Good opening day selective gear waters are Big Twin Lake near Winthrop and Blue Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area. Two popular fly-fishing lakes opening April 24 are Chopaka near Loomis and Aeneas near Tonasket. Rainbow trout are the predominant species in all four of these lakes.

Jateff also reports that Spectacle Lake, which opened April 1, continues to provide good fishing for rainbow trout 11-13 inches.

"Most of these Okanogan County lakes have received some larger rainbows in the one to two pound range," Jateff said, "in addition to their normal fish plants. Year-round Patterson Lake in the Winthrop area will get a plant of catchable size rainbows, as will Leader Lake in the Okanogan area. These two lakes are managed as mixed-species fisheries, so both could also provide some good spiny ray fishing early on."

In Douglas County, Jameson Lake’s water quality has improved over the last several weeks, Jateff reports. That means WDFW hatchery crews will be able to stock upwards of 20,000 catchable size rainbow trout in Jameson prior to the April 24 opener.

All details of fish stocking by water and by county are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants and complete information about all lakes is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ .

Hunting: WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop expects improved spring wild turkey hunting, which opened April 15 and runs through May 31.

"The mild winter should have translated into less than average winter mortality for turkeys," Fitkin explained. "It also could mean better than average access for hunters. The birds, however, may be more spread out on the landscape this year with more snow-free ground than usual. Overall I am anticipating a modest improvement in turkey harvest over last year in the Okanogan District."

Fitkin reminds turkey hunters they must report hunting activity after the seasons and harvest should be reported within 10 days of taking a turkey. For all the rules, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/game_species/turkey .

Another kind of popular "hunting" in the spring is for the shed antlers of deer. WDFW biologists say deer and other wildlife are still "winter-weary" and should not be unduly disturbed during the increasingly popular quest for "sheds."

WDFW ungulate research biologist Woody Myers says deer are foraging day-long on newly-sprouted grasses and forbs in grasslands, pastures, low or mid elevation forest meadows, and other open areas of southern exposure.

"They’re just now finding the opportunity to reverse the energy deficit they’ve been in all winter," Myers said. "Plus, the does are entering their third trimester of pregnancy, a time of increased energy demands. Any disturbance now might mean the difference between life and death for both adults and youngsters yet to be born. Adults can still be lost as a result of starvation this spring and weight at birth has been correlated to fawn survival."

Wildlife viewing: This is an excellent time to visit the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Moses Lake in Grant County. Hundreds of bird species are now gracing the refuge and surrounding area with spring mating and nesting underway. It’s great place to drive around to see green-winged and cinnamon teal, northern pintails, gadwall, American wigeon, redhead, lesser scaup, common goldeneye, bufflehead, ruddy duck, black-crowned night heron, American avocet, least sandpiper, common snipe, Caspian and Forster’s terns, bank, cliff and barn swallows, rock and marsh wrens, savannah, grasshopper and white-crowned sparrows, red-winged, yellow-headed and Brewer’s blackbirds , and many other species. To learn more and plan a trip, visit the refuge’s website at http://www.fws.gov/columbia/ .

Some recently returning migrant song birds are still looking for nest sites. Secondary cavity nesters – those that will use, but not create for themselves, nests in tree cavities – will readily use man-made nest boxes, including bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches and swallows . For detailed information about building and placing bird nest boxes, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/nestboxes.htm .

[pagebreak:Southcentral Washington]

Fishing: Even though the big statewide late April opener is a "non-event" in this region of mostly year-round lake fisheries, anglers should be aware that WDFW fish hatchery crews do ramp up trout stocking at many waters now.

WDFW district fish biologist Paul Hoffarth of Pasco notes large triploid rainbow trout are going into three Tri-Cities area lakes – Dalton Lake, off the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway; Columbia Park Pond, a juvenile-only fishery in Columbia Park in Kennewick; and Powerline Lake, a walk-in only lake in north Franklin county near Mesa.

"These big trout weigh in excess of one pound each and are scheduled to be planted by mid-April," Hoffarth said. "In addition, large numbers of catchable-size trout will be planted in Dalton, Quarry, and Columbia Park Pond in mid-April."

All details of fish stocking by water by county are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants and complete information about all lakes is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ .

Hoffarth also notes the numbers of spring chinook salmon moving into the mid and upper Columbia River are starting to rise. Spring chinook seasons are open up to McNary Dam through April – and will open in the Tri-Cities area in late April and the first of May – including sport fisheries in the Yakima River and at WDFW’s Ringold Hatchery. Many of these fisheries are listed in the WDFW Fishing Regulations, but others will open or be modified by emergency rule change; for the latest, see https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ .

"A one-mile section of shoreline in the Columbia River adjacent to our Ringold Hatchery will open for spring chinook on May 1," Hoffarth said. "Original estimates for the hatchery return was 700-plus adult spring chinook, but it could exceed 2,000."

Hoffarth notes this is the final year the Ringold area will be open for spring chinook, and that it will open to bank-angling only. Daily limit is two hatchery chinook. For all details see the Fishing Rules of Washington at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html .

The latest creel survey on the Columbia River John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla) showed an estimated 24 boat trips and 122 bank anglers fishing. The majority of the boats were fishing for walleye or sturgeon and the bank anglers were primarily fishing for chinook salmon. No catch was reported for salmon.

Fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass , and channel catfish is picking up in the Columbia, Walla Walla, and Yakima rivers.

Kids fishing events in the region are scheduled for May 1 at Columbia Park Pond in the Tri-Cities and May 8 in the Yakima area. Cost per kid five to 14 years of age is $5, which includes fishing for stocked rainbow trout and a rod and reel. Pre-registration is required. For the Tri-Cities event, contact Kennewick Recreation at 509-585-4293 or online at www.ci.kennewick.wa.us . For the Yakima event, contact WDFW Southcentral Regional Office, 1701 S. 24th Ave., 509-575-2740 or Yakima Greenway Foundation, Office 111 South 18th St., 509-453-8280. Information on both events is also available at the Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GOPAW) website at http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program .

Hunting: The general spring wild turkey hunting season runs April 15-May 31 and the region has several good areas of opportunities, including the 91,000-plus-acre WDFW Colockum Wildlife Area, south of Wenatchee in Kittitas and Chelan counties.

Turkey hunters are reminded they must report hunting activity after the seasons and harvest should be reported within 10 days of taking a turkey. For all the rules, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/game_species/turkey

Another kind of popular "hunting" in the spring is for the shed antlers of deer and elk. WDFW biologists say deer, elk and other wildlife are still "winter-weary" and should not be disturbed during the increasingly popular quest for "sheds."

WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area, west of Yakima where elk are winter-fed, is one of the most popular areas for shed hunting. Oak Creek’s new manager Ross Huffman reminds visitors that area and road closures – including Forest Service Road 1400 (Oak Creek Road), the Bethel Ridge Road which goes through the Oak Creek headquarters, and the Bethel Ridge/ Meloy Canyon Road – remain in effect until 6 a.m. on May 1 to limit disturbance to animals during the critical time of late winter and early spring.

Vehicle gates are closed to all entry on other wildlife areas in the region, too. The Mellotte Road into the Wenas Wildlife Area, the Robinson Canyon and Joe Watt Canyon roads into the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, and roads on the Whiskey Dick and a portion of the Quilomene wildlife areas in Kittitas County are closed until May 1 to protect elk.

Wildlife viewing: The huge waterfowl and shorebird migrations are now past at McNary National Wildlife Refuge, just southeast of the Tri-Cities. But many bird species are now nesting here, including mallard and redhead ducks, black-crown night herons, great blue herons, pied-billed grebes, long-billed curlews, burrowing owls, long-billed marsh wrens, and yellow-headed, red-winged, and Brewer’s blackbirds. Ring-billed gulls, California gulls, Forester’s terns and spotted sandpipers also nest in colonies on the river islands in the Hanford Islands Division of the refuge. For more information and updates on the new environmental education center under construction, see http://nwr.mcnary.wa.us/ .

WSDOT Runs Down Stimulus News

This week by the numbers (project dollars in millions)

Individual highway projects

State

Local

Total

Notes

Total highway funds

$340

$152

$492

 

Obligated funds

$340 (100%)

$150.5 (99%)

$490.5 (99%)

All funds must be obligated by March 2, 2010

Projects certified

47 (100%)

159 (100%)

206 (100%)

Two new individual projects certified this month

Projects obligated

47 (100%)

158 (99%)

205 (99%)

FHWA has obligated some or all funds for the projects

Project delivery to date

Operationally complete

21 (45%)

70 (44%)

91 (44%)

Two projects reported complete this edition

Awarded/underway1 

34 (72%)

143 (90%)

177 (86%)

Includes completed projects

Advertised

43 (91%)

152 (94%)

195 (91%)

Includes completed and awarded projects

Certified, awaiting advertisment

4 (8%)

7 (5%)

11 (5%)

These projects, including several receiving surplus funds, are planned for upcoming advertisement.

Safety funding buckets ($12 stimulus)

Rumble
Strips

Cable
median
barrier

Total

Notes

Completed

15

2

17

State stimulus funds only

Awarded

17

7

24

Includes completed projects

Advertised 

28

11

39

Includes completed and awarded projects

Transit projects

Large
urban

Small
urban

Nonurban/
rural

State total

Percent of total $179 awarded

97%

97%

100%

98%
Includes Washington State Ferries projects

Number of Transit projects obligated

33 of 35

18 of 19

20 of 20

52 of 55
FTA counts all rural projects as one project

December employment

State

Local

Total

Notes

Payroll

$1.7

$3.5

$5.3
for December

Cumulatively, $51.9 million in payroll to date 
Average wage is $38 per hour

Hours

38,751

92,953

132,704
for December

Employees have worked 1,362,759 hours to date

FTEs

224

543

767
for December

FTE = 173 hours per month

Employees

960

2,648

3,608
for December

Note: Not a count of unique employees

1 This includes one state project that has stimulus funding authorized for pre-construction and is currently under way.

 

Key issues: State

Washington State received $65 million in Recovery Act TIGER grants – Senator Patty Murray and Governor Chris Gregoire announced Washington State received $65 million in stimulus funds that were awarded February 17 through a national $1.5 billion competitive grant process. The North Spokane Corridor grant valued at $35 million will complete the southbound lanes for 3.7 miles between Francis Avenue and Farwell Road. The Seattle Mercer Street grant valued at $30 million will help fund a city project to address a major bottleneck. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program awarded 51 grants for surface transportation improvements nationwide on February 17, the anniversary of the Recovery Act’s passage. The U.S. DOT received 1,380 applications seeking $56.5 billion, including 49 applications totaling almost $1.66 billion from Washington.

  • The WSDOT Spokane project is one of only four projects nationwide fully funded by the Recovery Act TIGER grants.
  • The applications provide more detail on the Seattle and WSDOT projects.
  • WSDOT had also submitted applications for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement ($300 million) and the Columbia River Crossing ($147) million.
  • The WSDOT federal issues blog features a refresher on the applications.

Washington prepares for March 2 obligation target – WSDOT and local governments have obligated $490 million of $492 million in Recovery Act highway funds. An obligation is a commitment—the Federal government’s promise to pay the State for the Federal share of a project’s eligible cost. This commitment occurs when the project is approved by the Federal Highway Administration and the accompanying project agreement is executed. States must obligate 100% of Recovery Act funds by March 2 or lose funds to other states that meet the requirement. Due to favorable bids, stimulus projects are averaging well under their anticipated budgets. Surplus funds originally obligated to projects are being used to deliver additional projects.

  • Upon federal authorization of the Bellingham – Bakerview & Hannegan/Woburn project, Washington will have met the 100% obligation requirement.

Next employment reports due this week – WSDOT will submit employment reports for the month of January later this week to the Federal Highway Administration and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Through December, employees on state and local projects receiving Recovery Act highway funds have worked over 1,360,000 hours. The full data set is available at WSDOT’s stimulus employment webpage. Due to winter weather and project completions this fall, payroll for the months of November and December have declined from a high in October, when employees worked 284,000 hours earning $10.9 million.

Four Tier 3 projects advertised – WSDOT advertised the first four Tier 3 projects using surplus stimulus funds and three more projects are planned for advertisements. WSDOT advertised the US 195/Idaho State Line to Colton – Paving project on February 8. On February 16, WSDOT advertised the SR 26/Royal City East, US 97/Okanogan to Riverside, and US 97/Pateros South chip seal projects. The seven Tier 3 projects received $12.3 million in Recovery Act funds due to low bids on the initial Tier 1 and Tier 2 project lists.

Two local Recovery Act projects awarded –

Three local projects advertised –

Key issues: National

Almost 7,000 FHWA projects totaling $16.8 billion under way – The Federal Highway Administration has obligated over $23.8 billion to 10,978 projects as of January 29, or 89% of $26.8 billion in Recovery Act highway funds. Of those projects, 6,950, costing $16.8 billion are under way, and almost $6 billion has been spent as of January 29.

House T & I Committee plans one year progress report hearing on Recovery Act – On February 23, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing to review the one-year progress report on Recovery Act transportation and infrastructure investments. It will be the full committee’s sixth review of stimulus project performance since the Recovery Act was signed into law in February 2009. Snow delayed the hearing originally scheduled for February 10.

  • The agenda includes testimony from Deputy Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman.

Highlight of the week

Amtrak Cascades provides status report

Amtrak Cascades wrapped up its 10th anniversary year with continued growth in ridership and improvement in on-time performance. A total of 761,610 passengers rode Amtrak Cascades in 2009 and on-time performance improved by 8 %.

WSDOT this week released the Amtrak Cascades 2009 Performance Report, which is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Freight/publications. The Amtrak Cascades 2009 Performance Report is an annual summary of ridership, on-time reliability, operating costs and revenue for the service, which is sponsored by Washington State in partnership with Amtrak and the state of Oregon.

“We see passenger rail as a viable alternative available to travelers up and down the I-5 corridor, which is why Washington has invested more than $331 million in passenger rail since 1994,” said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary. “With our recent Recovery Act funding award of $590 million, we will offer increased travel options and improved reliability.”

Ridership for 2009 was up 12.5 % over 2007, just a few points below 2008’s record levels. In August, a second daily service to Vancouver, B.C. began which contributed to additional ridership growth. Amtrak Cascades improved its on-time reliability averaging nearly 72 % for the year. This is a significant improvement towards the performance goal of 80 % or higher.  

Important dates

February 20: Next performance report due to T & I Committee
February 23: House T & I Committee holds next Recovery Act hearing
March 2: Deadline for obligating federal highway funds
March 5: Deadline for obligating federal transit funds
April 10: Third quarterly performance report due to OMB

Websites of interest

WSDOT ARRA website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/funding/stimulus
Washington recovery website: http://www.recovery.wa.gov/
Federal recovery website: http://www.recovery.gov/
FHWA recovery website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/index.htm
Federal Transit Administration recovery website: www.fta.dot.gov/recovery
Federal Rail Administration recovery website: http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/2153
Federal Aviation Administration recovery website: http://www.faa.gov/recovery
OMB recovery website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/recovery_default/

WSDOT Runs Down Stimulus News

This week by the numbers (project dollars in millions)

Individual highway projects

State

Local

Total

Notes

Total funds

$340

$152

$492

 

Obligated funds1

$267 (77%)

$142.6 (94%)

$409.6 (83%)

All funds must be obligated by March 2, 2010

Projects certified

40 (100%)

156 (100%)

196 (100%)

Four new individual projects certified on November 13

Projects obligated

39 (98%)

143 (90%)

182 (93%)

FHWA has obligated some or all funds for the projects

Project delivery to date

Operationally complete

20 (50%)

64 (41%)

84 (43%)

Six projects reported complete this week

Awarded/
under way2 

32 (80%)

135 (87%)

167 (85%)

Includes completed projects

Advertised

36 (90%)

142 (91%)

178 (91%)

Includes completed and awarded projects

Certified, awaiting advertisment

3 (8%)

14 (11%)

17 (9%)

These projects, including several receiving surplus funds, are planned for upcoming advertisement.

Safety funding buckets ($12 stimulus)

Rumble
Strips

Cable
median
barrier

Total

Notes

Completed

15

2

17

State stimulus funds only

Awarded

17

7

24

Includes completed projects

Advertised 

26

7

33

Includes completed and awarded projects

Transit projects

Large
urban

Small
urban

Nonurban/
rural

State total

Percent of total $179 awarded

97%

97%

100%

98%
Includes Washington State Ferries projects

Number of Transit projects obligated

33 of 35

18 of 19

20 of 20

52 of 55
FTA counts all rural projects as one project

October employment

State

Local

Total

Notes

Payroll

$4.4

$6.5

$10.9
for October

Cumulatively, $40 million in payroll to date  Average wage is $37 per hour

Hours

109,584

174,608

284,192
for October

Employees have worked 1,061,000 hours to date

FTEs

634

1,009

1,643
for October

FTE = 173 hours per month

Employees

2,023

4,377

6,400
for October

Note: Not a count of unique employees

1$4M in state enhancement funds provided to locals. While WSDOT controls $340M, the total for obligation authority is $344M, which is the basis of the percentages in this table, and basis for USDOT review on 3/02/2010.
2This includes one state project that has stimulus funding authorized for pre-construction and is currently under way.

 

Key issues: State

Third tier Recovery Act projects come on line thanks to competitive bid climate – Lower construction bids have generated enough savings to allow the Washington State Department of Transportation to build seven more highway projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act than first expected.  The December 16 news release has more information. The seven new projects will receive $12.3 million in stimulus funds.

  • US 195/Idaho State Line to Colton – Paving ($2,600,000)
  • SR 503/1mi East of Rock Creek Bridge to Frederickson Rd – Paving ($3,440,000)
  • SR 14/I-5 to SE 164th Ave. Interchange – Paving ($2,160,000)
  • US 97/Orondo Northward – Paving – Chip Seal ($1,120,000)
  • US 97/Okanogan to Riverside – Chip Seal ($1,440,000)
  • US 97/Pateros South – Chip Seal ($560,000)
  • SR 26/Royal City East – Chip Seal ($960,000)

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond attended White House Jobs Forum – The December 3 White House Jobs and Economic Growth Forum included a session on infrastructure investment as part of the nation’s economic and employment recovery efforts. Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond presented the case for increased federal infrastructure funding to President Obama and suggested the White House should expand the Recovery Act TIGER grant program to include more money. The $1.5 billion stimulus grant program attracted nearly 1,400 applications seeking over $56 billion. She was one of 150 guests invited to the summit to provide ideas for job creation.

  • The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to begin debating a jobs bill authorizing $37.3 billion for transportation on December 16. The WSDOT federal funding blog has more information.

Recovery Act funds provide three new Grape Line buses – Three new buses funded by federal stimulus dollars for the Grape Line have arrived and soon will begin carrying passengers between Walla Walla and Pasco. The new buses are the latest fruits from $1.9 million in Recovery Act funds for the Travel Washington Intercity Bus Program.

Crews are building new SR 501 bridge over I-5 in Clark County – Stage one of the I-5, SR 501 Ridgefield Interchange project is well under way. Crews are starting to drill large shafts deep into the middle of the interstate that will anchor the new SR 501 bridge. Once finished with the shafts in the median, crews will begin working on another set of shafts that will support the bridge abutments on each side of the interstate. Drilling shafts is the first step in the process of building the bridge.

  • The project, initially certified for $10 million in Recovery Act funds, is now expected to use only $8.2 million due to a low successful bid.
  • The interchange is scheduled to be complete in late 2011 or early 2012.

Tier 2 stimulus project awarded – The City of Monroe awarded the contract for intersection improvements on US 2 at Chain Lake Road at N. Lewis Street. The project received $2.95 million in Recovery Act funds made available due to low bids on other local stimulus projects.

Seven more highway projects completed – 
Local projects:

Four more Tier 2 highway projects advertised – WSDOT and local governments advertised four projects receiving surplus stimulus funds from earlier advertised projects.

Key issues: National

Stimulus job reporting guidance expected to change – The White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to provide new guidance on reporting stimulus job creation for the upcoming quarterly data submission in January. The guidance may affect the calculation of jobs saved and retained by Recovery Act projects. The updated guidance will be posted on the OMB stimulus webpage. WSDOT will continue to report monthly labor data on the measured employment webpage.

Five Washington tribes awarded Recovery Act grants – The Federal Transit Administration awarded stimulus funds to five Tribal Transit Programs in Washington State. The awards total over $1.22 million for new buses, other vehicles, equipment, and bus shelters. Nationwide, FTA awarded $17 million to 39 projects. The FTA news release has the full list of projects. The Washington stimulus projects are:

  • Spokane Tribe of Indians received $255,000 for six vehicles
  • Kalispel Tribe of Indians received $335,600 to purchase a bus, two vehicles, and dispatch equipment 
  • The Quinault Tribe of the Quinault reservation received $398,000 to purchase two buses 
  • The Confederated Tribes of the Yakima Nation received $112,000 to purchase 12 bus shelters and two support vehicles 
  • Tulalip Tribe received $126,748 for the purchase of three buses 
  • Additionally, eight Washington tribes received $2.67 million in non-stimulus federal transit grants

Congress provides more funds for high-speed rail – The 2010 Transportation funding bill Congress passed on December 13 includes $2.5 billion in new funding for High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grants. President Obama is expected to sign the funding bill soon. The additional federal funds are planned to supplement the $8 billion in Recovery Act funds for the high speed rail program.

  • The Federal Rail Administration received applications from 24 states seeking about $50 billion funds and is expected to announce the selected projects in early 2010. Washington State applied for $1.3 billion in HSIPR stimulus funds.

Secretary LaHood hosted high-speed rail manufacturing conference – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hosted a conference on domestic high-speed rail manufacturing on December 4 in Washington, D.C. LaHood said more than 30 rail manufacturers and suppliers committed to establish or expand operations in the United States if they are selected to build high-speed rail lines in the U.S.

  • The event’s news release includes a list of the companies participating.

National stimulus website plans changes to improve accuracy – Recovery.gov, the federal government’s official stimulus website, announced new changes in a blog entry December 15. The website will allow stimulus recipients to make corrections more frequently and will post a new list of “errors, omissions, and non-reported awards,” to publicly identify incorrect or incomplete reports. Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board Chairman Earl Devaney wrote that the website has also been updated to better identify congressional districts. Mistakes in the first report identified some projects as occurring in congressional districts that do not exist.

House T & I Committee held oversight hearing December 10 – Minnesota Rep. Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, opened the hearing December 10, by saying the Recovery Act has created over 200,000 infrastructure jobs. Oberstar said the Federal Highway Administration’s $26.8 billion in stimulus projects are providing pavement improvements, widening, and enhancements that add up to 27,756.6 miles of road improvements nationwide.

FHWA has obligated 80% of stimulus funds nationwide – The Federal Highway Administration has obligated almost $21.4 billion to 9,580 projects, or 80% of $26.8 billion in Recovery Act highway funds. Of those projects, 5,639 costing $14.45 billion are under way, and nearly $5 billion has been spent.

Inspector General started a review of U.S. DOT Stimulus Reporting Oversight – The U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General initiated an audit of U.S. DOT oversight of the Section 1512 reporting required under the Recovery Act on December 11. All transportation stimulus recipients were required to post accountability reports on October, 10. The federal Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board requested the Inspector General’s audit.

Stimulus project of the week

Stimulus funds help improve pedestrian safety in Lynnwood
Work is underway on a project to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at the I-5/196th Street SW interchange in Lynnwood.
Tri-State Construction crews are making great progress on a city of Lynnwood project that will improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at the I-5/196th Street SW interchange. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided $1.25 million toward the $5.65 million project.

Crews are building a new walkway on the 196th Street SW overpass and a pedestrian bridge over the southbound I-5 off-ramp. The goal of the project is to make it safer and easier to cross I-5 at 196th Street SW on bike or foot. Currently, bicyclists and pedestrians must use a narrow sidewalk on 196th Street SW to travel between east and west Lynnwood. To access the Interurban Trail and Alderwood Boulevard on the west side of the interchange, they must cross 196th Street SW and wind their way through heavily-traveled local streets.

The new barrier-separated pedestrian walkway on the north side of the 196th Street SW bridge provides a safer, wider route across the interchange, separating vehicle traffic from pedestrians and bicyclists on the off-ramp. Finally, an elevated walkway will provide a safe connection to the popular Interurban Trail and Alderwood Boulevard. Crews started work in August and are on track to wrap up the project by next spring. 
 

Important dates

December 20: Next report to U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
January 6: Anticipated bid opening for I-5/North Kelso to Harrison Ave
January 10: Next quarterly report due to OMB
January 13: Anticipated bid opening for I-82/Valley Mall Blvd Interchange
February 17: Deadline for the U.S. Department of Transportation to announce TIGER grants and High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail awards (both are expected earlier)
March 2: Deadline for obligating federal highway funds

Websites of interest

WSDOT ARRA website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/funding/stimulus
Washington recovery website: http://www.recovery.wa.gov/
Federal recovery website: http://www.recovery.gov/
FHWA recovery website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/index.htm
Federal Transit Administration recovery website: www.fta.dot.gov/recovery
Federal Rail Administration recovery website: http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/2153
Federal Aviation Administration recovery website: http://www.faa.gov/recovery
OMB recovery website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/recovery_default/

Historical Seaport Opens New Online Store

In addition to knives, the Ship’s Store at the Historical Seaport offers sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats with screen-printed or appliquéd images of Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. The Ship’s Store also features special gift items, holiday ornaments, and stocking stuffers.
 
The Ship’s Store recommends purchase and shipping of gifts for the holidays by Dec. 18 to ensure delivery by Dec. 24.
 
Lady Washington is currently conducting educational programs in Pasco as part of its fall Columbia River voyage. Hawaiian Chieftain is currently in Oakland, Calif. on its fall and winter tour of California ports.

Brave fall weather to hunt elk, catch salmon or dig razor clams

Those same conditions, including an early snowfall in the mountains, has also helped to improve success rates for deer hunters during the modern-firearm season, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager.  That season wraps up by the end of October, followed by general elk-hunting seasons running Oct. 31-Nov. 8 in eastern Washington and Nov. 7-17 on the west side of the state.

For more information about upcoming elk hunts, see WDFW’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm .  Bird hunters can check the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Season pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm for area-specific hunting regulations.

Anglers may be more interested to know that chum salmon are gathering at the mouth of the Hoodsport Hatchery in Hood Canal, catch rates for hatchery steelhead are improving on the Snake River and hatchery coho are still biting well on the Cowlitz and Klickitat rivers.

In addition, two areas of Puget Sound are set to reopen Nov. 1 for late-season crab fishing and two razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled for later in the month.  Starting Nov. 1 at sunrise, recreational crab fishing will reopen in Marine area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and most of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) seven days a week.  (The portion of Marine Area 9 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point will remain closed for the season.) 

More razor-clam digs are scheduled Nov. 4-7 and Nov. 14-17, subject to the results of marine toxin tests.  Final word on those digs will be available on WDFW’s shellfish hotline (866-880-5431), website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ) and local news media.

 

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities available around the state, see the regional reports below:

North Puget Sound  

Fishing: Anglers are still hooking a few coho in the region’s rivers and streams, but chum will soon be taking center stage. Meanwhile, some anglers fishing areas of Puget Sound have been reeling in blackmouth and will soon have the option of dropping a crab pot in select areas.

Starting Nov. 1 at sunrise, Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and most of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2010. The portion of Marine Area 9 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point will remain closed for the season.

Crab fishing also will remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since summer. Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal), currently open Wednesdays through Saturdays, will close for the season at 6 p.m. Oct. 31.
 
Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual recreational quota.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab .

While on the Sound, why not fish for blackmouth ? Effort has been low, but anglers have hooked a few of the resident chinook in central Puget Sound. Anglers fishing Marine Area 10 have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Beginning Nov. 1, opportunities for blackmouth will increase, as marine areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 open for chinook. Anglers fishing those marine areas will have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook salmon. Anglers are reminded that Marine Area 7 closes to salmon retention Nov. 1.

In the rivers, the coho season is winding down and chum salmon will soon be arriving in greater numbers. There are reports of anglers still catching a few coho in the region’s streams but, overall, fishing has been slow. 

Lake Sammamish is also an option for freshwater salmon anglers, who have a daily limit of four salmon, and can retain up to two chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

Lake Washington also is open for salmon, but only for a few more days. Anglers fishing the lake, which is open through Oct. 31, are allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.

Before heading out, anglers should check the regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

Hunting: Wet and windy weather has made for good waterfowl hunting early in the season, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager. "Hunters did well during the first couple weeks of the season because the weather distributed the birds throughout the area," he said. "There’s more blustery weather in the forecast, and that should continue to improve hunting prospects on both sides of the Cascades."

More and more snow geese and dabbling ducks continue to arrive in the area, Kraege said. "It’s still early in the migration, but the numbers of birds should continue to increase as we head into November," he said.

Goose hunts are open through Oct. 29 in the region, and then start again Nov. 7. However, snow, Ross and blue geese seasons in Goose Management Area 1 (Skagit and Snohomish counties) will run from Oct. 17 through Jan. 31 without a break. The duck hunting season also is open through Jan. 31.

Kraege reminds hunters who want to participate in the Snow Goose Quality Hunt program on Fir Island and in the northern Port Susan Bay area that they must have written authorization to hunt for snow geese in Goose Management Area 1 and written authorization to hunt the quality hunt units. Hunters also must possess a Washington small game hunting license and a state migratory bird validation, as well as a federal migratory bird stamp.    

For more information on how to participate in the quality hunt program, which is a cooperative project with several local landowners and residents, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/snow_goose .

Upland bird hunters have until the end of November to bag pheasant . Pheasant hunters should note that the department will release pheasants this fall at the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Samish Unit rather than the Headquarters Unit, where a substantial portion of land is no longer suitable for pheasant hunting. WDFW is temporarily moving its pheasant release program to the Samish Unit because an estuary restoration project has returned portions of recreational land on the Headquarters Unit to intertidal habitat for fish and wildlife. Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit through Nov. 7.

The early modern firearm season for deer runs through Oct. 31. Up next for hunters is the modern firearm season for elk, which gets started Nov. 7 in select game management units. Other hunts open in the region include, cougar, grouse, California quail and bobwhite seasons. Bear hunts are also open, but the season closes Nov. 15

Hunters can find more information on hunting season prospects at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects . Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm ) and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm ) for details.

Wildlife viewing: More and more birders are making their way to the region to view snow geese , which also continue to arrive in increasing numbers. About 80,000 snow geese winter in western Washington each year. Most of those snow geese congregate in the Skagit Valley, and can be found in the area from mid-October through early May.

Several birders have even spotted some blue geese among this year’s flock. The blue geese , rare visitors to western Washington, were reported numerous times in a field on Fir Island. One birder spotted seven blue geese, along with 18 cackling geese and a juvenile white-fronted goose . "They formed their own tight little group within the larger flock," according to the report on the Tweeters birding website ( http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/ ). "I have never seen so many blue geese in one spot."

Meanwhile, birders throughout the nation are beginning to make preparations for the annual Christmas Bird Count , scheduled Dec. 14, 2009 through Jan. 5, 2010.  Specific counting dates have already been announced in several areas of western Washington, where birders turn out by the hundreds to count and categorize the birds they see to benefit avian science.  Those interested should watch the Audubon website at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/ for details.

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South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing:   Anglers targeting chum and coho in Puget Sound and area streams will soon have some other options to consider. A late-season Dungeness crab fishery will get under way Nov. 1 in select areas, and two razor clam digs are planned later in the month.

Starting Nov. 1 at sunrise, recreational crab fishing will reopen in Marine area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), and most of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2010. The portion of Marine Area 9 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point will remain closed for the season.

Crab fishing also will remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound).  However, only a few more days remain to catch crab in Marine Area12 (Hood Canal), which is open Wednesdays through Saturdays through Oct. 31.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1, 8-2 (east of Whidbey Island) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual recreational quota.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Recreational crabbers are required to send in a winter catch card or report their catch online by Jan. 15. People failing to submit their winter reports will receive a $10 fine when they apply for a 2010 Puget Sound crab endorsement. For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab .

Meanwhile, chum salmon are gathering in front of the Hoodsport Hatchery facility in southern Hood Canal, where the fishery has been open since Oct. 16. Although it’s the early part of the run, the numbers are building, said Mark Cylwik, WDFW hatchery specialist. "The run normally peaks just before Thanksgiving, so November is a good month to enjoy some chum fishing," Cylwik said. A recent creel check on the Hoodsport shore showed 20 anglers with 10 chum. To avoid competition with tribal beach nets, Cylwik recommends fishing on days other than Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the Skokomish Tribe has been conducting its fishery. Anglers can call (360) 877-5222 for a recorded message about Hoodsport fishing conditions.

The mouth of Kennedy Creek near Shelton also is known for attracting chum, but so far the run has been light. A creel check conducted Oct. 24 showed 39 anglers with seven fish. Other traditionally good November chum rivers are the Skokomish and Nisqually rivers, where salmon fishing is currently under way. Starting Nov. 1, anglers can target chum in several other streams, including the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers in Jefferson County and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap Counties.

Because retention rules and fishing regulations vary on the many rivers and streams throughout the region, anglers are advised to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm before heading out.

On the Chehalis River in Grays Harbor County, participation and catch rates have slowed as salmon head out of the mainstem and into the tributaries, said Scot Barbour, WDFW fish biologist. Twenty-four anglers recently checked at the Fuller Bridge on the river had five hatchery coho , while 11 anglers checked near Montesano had two.

"The Wishkah and Satsop rivers are good bets right now and lots of people have been fishing the Humptulips," Barbour said. "But this time of year, success depends on the weather and the height of the river. Anglers need to hit the rivers when they’re high enough to bring in salmon, but not so high that they’re unfishable."

Barbour reminds anglers that only hatchery coho with a clipped adipose fin and jack chinook and coho may be retained on a number of area rivers, including the Chehalis, Elk, Johns, Satsop, Wishkah and Wynoochee rivers in Grays Harbor County and the Skookumchuck River in Thurston County.

Anglers fishing in the Quillayute system – which includes the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Dickey rivers – can keep two adult salmon, plus two additional adult hatchery coho as part of the six-fish daily limit. No wild coho may be retained.

In the South Sound, anglers fishing in marine areas 11 and 13 (Vashon Island to South Puget Sound) may retain wild chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit, but will be restricted to one chinook starting Nov. 1. Also starting that day, anglers may retain wild coho caught in Marine Area 13.

Anglers are advised to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm before heading out.

Meanwhile, anglers looking for some late-season trout fishing might consider a trip to Black Lake in Thurston County, where 2,500 one-pound rainbows will be stocked in time for the Oct. 31 weekend. "In the past this late fall plant has resulted in good catch and effort through the winter," said Larry Phillips, WDFW fish biologist. "In addition to these fish, anglers often encounter large hold-over fish from last spring’s planting, as well as wild coastal cutthroat." 

On the coast, many of the 30,250 razor clam diggers who participated in the Oct. 16-19 season opener on five ocean beaches took home their 15-clam limit. More digs are tentatively scheduled Nov. 4-7 and Nov. 14-17, subject to the results of marine toxin tests.

For a change of pace, anglers may want to venture out some evening and try jigging for squid , which generally make their way through Puget Sound in fall and winter. Good bets include the Les Davis Pier in Tacoma and the Elliott Bay pier in Seattle.

Squid fishing is open year-round with a daily limit of five quarts or 10 pounds. Best success usually occurs at night. Legal gear includes a baitfish jig, a maximum of four squid lures or a hand dip net. Each angler must have a separate container. Squid fishing is closed in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12). More information on squid fishing is available at  http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/squid . Information on fishing piers is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/piers/ .

Hunting: The early modern firearm season for black-tailed deer wraps up Oct. 31. Up next for hunters is the modern firearm elk season which opens Nov 7-17 in select game management units. "The Williams Creek area south of Raymond is our best elk area," said Greg Schirato, WDFW regional wildlife manager. "Another good area to look for elk is the North River unit south of Aberdeen."

The late-buck, black-tailed deer hunting season starts with a modern firearm hunt that runs Nov. 19-22 in western Washington. Following that four-day hunt, archers and muzzleloaders will take to the field Nov. 25 for the late deer and elk season, (Nov. 26 for late-muzzleloader deer season).
 
Hunters planning to participate in any hunting season should check WDFW’s 2009 Big Game Hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm before heading out.

The statewide season for ducks, coots and snipe resumed Oct. 24 while goose-hunting reopens Nov. 7 in Management Area 3. Goose management area 2B (Pacific County), under way since Oct. 17, is open Saturdays and Wednesdays only.
 
Hunters may also pursue pheasant, quail and bobwhite through Nov. 30. An extended pheasant-hunting season runs Dec. 1-15 at Skookumchuck, Fort Lewis, Kosmos, Scatter Creek, Belfair, Whidbey Island (except Bayview) and Lincoln Creek release sites. The statewide forest grouse hunting season continues through Dec. 31.

Additional information about bird-hunting seasons is available in the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet, http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm .

The general black bear season will close Nov. 15, while cougar hunting in the region is open through March 31, 2010. Hunters are allowed one cougar and two bear during the season, but only one bear may be take in eastern Washington.

Hunters should be aware that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has suspended garbage service at eight DNR campgrounds on state trust lands in Clallam and Jefferson counties. DNR asks the public to pack out what they pack in. Campgrounds include Bear Creek in Clallam County and Hoh Oxbow, Coppermine Bottom, Cottonwood, South Fork Hoh, Willoughby, Minnie Peterson and Upper Clearwater in Jefferson County.  

Wildlife viewing: Each weekend throughout November, visitors can walk the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail for an up-close look at thousands of chum salmon returning to local streams. Located just above the Kennedy Creek estuary on Totten Inlet, the trail is off U.S. Hwy 101 between Olympian and Shelton. The stream is one of the most productive chum salmon streams in Washington. While there visitors can find numerous species of migrating shorebirds or hike around the estuary. More information on the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail is located at http://www.spsseg.org/ .

Birders venture to many places looking for common and rare bird sightings, including sewage treatment plants (STP) that often host numerous species. Recent visitors to the Hoquiam STP found several rarities as well as birds typically found in the area. Reports on the Tweeters website ( http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/TWET.html ) included sightings of an orchard oriole, clay-colored sparrow, chestnut-collared longspur and palm warbler among the more typical song sparrows, golden-crowned sparrows, chickadees, kinglets and Hutton’s vireo .

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Southwest Washington

Fishing:   Hatchery coho salmon are still providing most of the action on the lower Columbia River, although bank anglers fishing for sturgeon immediately below Bonneville Dam are also catching fish.  About one in 10 took home a keeper during the week ending Oct. 26. 

From the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet upstream, anglers can keep one white sturgeon daily measuring between 38 and 54 inches fork length on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. Anglers are reminded the statewide annual limit is five fish per license year (April through March).

Meanwhile, anglers looking for hatchery coho have several good options to choose from, both above and below Bonneville Dam.  The hotspot is still the Klickitat River, where bank and boat anglers have been taking home an average of one fish apiece. Fishing pressure has been heavy throughout the lower river, and boat anglers have been doing well trolling prawn/spinner rigs just off the mouth.

Fishing also continues to be productive in the Cowlitz, North Fork Lewis and Kalama rivers, said Joe Hymer, WDFW fish biologist.  The Elochoman and Washougal rivers would also be good bets, he said.  As of Oct. 21, nearly 35,000 adult coho had returned to the Cowlitz salmon hatchery, the highest count by that date since at least 1990. 

"We are now fairly confident that total coho returns to the Columbia River Basin will meet or exceed the pre-season forecast of 700,000 fish, making it the biggest run since 2001," Hymer said.  "The great thing is that the fish are still biting fairly well.  The rain has really recharged fishing throughout the system."

Anglers fishing the Cowlitz River have also been intercepting some chinook, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat (especially near the trout hatchery).  Hymer noted, however, that all adult chinook salmon intercepted on the Cowlitz River from Blue Creek upstream to Mill Creek must be released.  For other regulations in effect on the Columbia River and its tributaries, he recommends that anglers check the WDFW website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ) before heading out.

One new emergency rule listed there allows Columbia River anglers to retain up to three adult coho salmon from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upriver to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco.

Those fishing the mainstem Columbia near the mouth of the Lewis River should also be aware that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin blasting and dredging the shipping channel around Warrior Rock on the north end of Sauvie Island on Nov. 1. All watercraft will be prohibited from entering a 1,500-yard safety zone around the site without permission.  Boaters who wish to enter the safety zone can contact the Coast Guard at VHF 13 or VHF 16 for specific instructions.  For additional information, see http://www.crci-project.info .

Ready for winter?  Hymer noted that four winter-run steelhead recently turned up in the trap at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery, a portent of another fishing season ahead.  That fishery usually starts to ramp up around Thanksgiving, he said. "Talk about a quick transition," he added.  "I’m still trying to get used to the fact that summer’s over and fall is here."

Anglers who want to make the most of the current season might want to try Swift Reservoir, which will remain open to fishing for game fish and salmon through Nov. 30.  Fishing has been reported to be excellent for rainbows averaging 12-13 inches with some up to 20 inches.  Hymer also suggests fishing Silver Lake near Castle Rock for crappies .  Anglers have reportedly been doing well there too in recent days, he said.

Hunting:   The final days of October found hunters taking aim at a variety of species around the region, including deer, cougar, ducks, geese, coots and snipe .  Heavy rains have eased after the mid-month openers for those species, contributing to decent success rates for those hunts.

Deer hunting with modern firearms closes at the end of the day Oct. 31, but the other hunts will continue – with some variations – in the weeks ahead.  Hunters can also look forward to the start of the modern-firearm season for elk , which runs Nov. 7-17 in selected game management units throughout western Washington.

David Anderson, WDFW wildlife biologist, noted that elk hunters in southwest Washington generally have one of the highest success rates in the state.  "Conditions are looking pretty good this year," Anderson said.  "We didn’t have a severe winter and the recent snowfall is helping to move elk down from the higher elevations."

He strongly recommends that hunters check WDFW’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm ) for rules about specific areas before heading out.  Bird hunters are similarly advised to check the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Season pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm ) for area-specific hunting regulations.

As outlined in those pamphlets, ongoing hunts for cougars and geese will expand into additional areas in the days ahead:

  • Cougar season:   The general-season cougar hunt in Klickitat County will begin Oct. 31.  The season began two weeks earlier in most other areas of the state, but was delayed in Klickitat County and five other counties to accommodate a permit hunt with the use of dogs later in the year.
  • Goose season:   Goose hunting will open Nov. 14 in Goose Management Area 2A, which includes Wahkiakum County, Cowlitz County and part of Clark County.  That area opens later than other areas to protect dusky geese. See Page 17 of the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Season pamphlet for more information.

Wildlife viewing:   Migrating waterfowl are now reaching peak levels in southwest Washington, providing prime viewing opportunities for people throughout the region. Swans, geese, ducks and other waterfowl of all descriptions are on display throughout the Vancouver Lowlands, including seven subspecies of Canada geese ranging from common cacklers to less-common Aleutian geese .

With hunting seasons under way in many parts of the region, some birders have called WDFW to ask whether they should wear hunter-orange clothing while in the field. "It’s not a legal requirement for bird watchers," said Bill Tweit, a WDFW policy analyst and avid birder. "But it only makes sense to let hunters know where you are when you’re sharing the same area, since we are partners in outdoor recreation."

Meanwhile, birders throughout the nation are beginning to make preparations for the 110th annual Christmas Bird Count, scheduled Dec. 14, 2009 through Jan. 5, 2010.  Specific counting dates have already been announced in several areas of southwest Washington, where birders turn out by the hundreds to count and categorize the birds they see to benefit avian science.  Those interested should watch the Audubon website at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/ for details.

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Eastern Washington

Fishing:  Steelhead fishing on the Snake River continues to heat up as temperatures cool. Joe Bumgarner, a WDFW fish biologist, said limited creel checks indicate good catch rates in various river sections. Anglers who were recently checked in the Wallula area, from the Washington-Oregon state line to the mouth of the Walla Walla River, averaged just under 11 hours of fishing per steelhead caught. From Ice Harbor Dam to Lower Monumental Dam, anglers averaged just under 12 hours per catch, and from Lower Monumental to Little Goose Dam, slightly more than 11 hours per catch. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recent creel checks on the Lower Grand Ronde River showed an average of just over nine hours of fishing per steelhead caught on the Washington section, from Bogans Oasis to state line.

Bumgarner reminds Snake River system steelheaders that barbless hooks must be used and all wild steelhead must be kept in the water and released immediately. Because of the abundant return of hatchery-marked steelhead (clipped adipose or ventral fin with healed scar), up to five can be retained daily.

Many streams, rivers and lakes throughout the region close to all fishing Nov. 1.  Waters that remain open year-round and are currently providing good catches of rainbow trout , include Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line and Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam.

Hunting:   Joey McCanna, WDFW upland game bird specialist, said field checks of pheasant hunters over the season opening weekend in Whitman County – from Penawawa Canyon on the Snake River boundary on the south end to the Revere Wildlife Area on the northwest end – indicate that a total of 63 hunters had bagged 43 young-of-the-year pheasants and 13 adult pheasants, for an average of just under one bird per hunter. "In areas with good cover, hunters were getting several shots at birds," McCanna said. 

The best areas to hunt pheasants are usually along river and stream drainages, from Rock and Union Flat Creek and the Palouse River to the Snake, Touchet, Walla Walla, and Tucannon rivers. Agricultural areas with good habitat conditions – brushy hillsides and draws – are prime, but of course hunters need to seek permission to access private land. Acreage enrolled in WDFW’s "Feel Free to Hunt" and "Register to Hunt" programs can be a good bet, and hunters need to scout out those program signs in the field. McCanna notes that more than 22,000 acres in the south end of the region were recently posted "Feel Free to Hunt."

Game-farm-raised rooster pheasants have also been released on the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in Ferry County, the Fishtrap Lake site on the Lincoln-Spokane county line, and several other release sites in the south end of the region. Details are posted on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm .
 
The modern firearm elk season runs Oct. 31 through Nov. 8 in several units throughout the region. The southeast district is traditionally the best, with the greatest numbers in the Blue Mountains, but only spike bulls can be harvested.

"Calf survival has improved in recent years, but is still 15 percent below optimum levels, which does have a negative impact on the number of spike bulls available for harvest," WDFW Biologist Pat Fowler said. "The Wenaha sub-herd (GMU-169) still remains below historic population levels, which hurts overall hunting opportunity in the Blue Mountains. But hunters can expect prospects to be similar to previous years."

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman said elk hunters should come prepared because there is snow in the upper elevations of the Blue Mountains.

Central district units 124-142 are open for any elk, bull or cow, but private land access must be secured for most hunting. WDFW district wildlife biologists Howard Ferguson and Mike Atamian recently helicopter-surveyed elk in and around Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in the Cheney (130) unit and counted a total of 260 elk –  35 bulls, 146 cows, and 79 calves.  That total was down compared to previous years of the same aerial survey, but they also saw a herd of about 100 elk just outside the survey area. Including those animals would bring the count above the yearly average of 316. The biologists are currently attempting a ground count and composition of the herd.

Ferguson reminds hunters the refuge is not open to elk hunting this year, but might be by next fall. For now, private property access permission must be obtained.

WDFW biologist Dana Base says elk are fewer and farther between in the northeast district, but the population does not appear to have been as heavily impacted by the last two winters as white-tailed deer. "Finding elk is the biggest challenge here," he said. "There’s so much closed canopy forest where they can effectively hide and ‘sit out’ the season."

Base said that the modern firearm hunting season for white-tailed deer continues through Oct. 30 in units 101-124. Checks of deer hunters just north of Deer Park off Hwy. 395 indicate an average number of hunters and good harvest rates, compared to past years. On Oct. 25, 138 hunters were checked with 15 deer for an 11 percent success rate. Last year on the same weekend, 136 hunters had seven deer for a 5 percent success rate.  Late white-tailed deer hunts in units 105-124 will run Nov. 7-19.

Wildlife viewing: Frosty mornings and even snow in some areas are reminders to backyard birdwatchers that now is the time to stock supplemental feeding stations and provide ice-free water sources to enjoy close-up wildlife viewing.  WDFW wildlife biologists advise keeping backyard bird feeding stations clean and bird-friendly. For more details check http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/winter_feed.htm .

Northcentral Washington

Fishing:   Methow River hatchery steelhead fishing recently expanded, thanks to greater numbers of wild fish moving upriver. Now open is the section from the second powerline crossing upstream from Pateros to the first Hwy. 153 Bridge. The daily limit is four adipose fin-clipped, hatchery-origin steelhead, with a minimum size of 20 inches.

The regulations state that anglers must retain any of these fish they catch, since the open area expansion is intended to reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. Increasing the proportion of naturally produced spawners is expected to improve genetic integrity and stock recruitment of upper Columbia River steelhead through perpetuation of steelhead stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage, said Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist.

Anglers are required to release all steelhead with an intact adipose fin. Any steelhead caught with an intact adipose fin may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. Any steelhead with one or more round holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin must also be released.

Selective gear rules apply, no bait is allowed and a night closure is in effect.  Boats with motors are not allowed. 

Hunting:   WDFW waterfowl specialist Mikal Moore reports that the waterfowl hunting season opener in the Columbia Basin had mixed success.  "Before the cold weather moves in and ducks start to focus on field feeding, hunters should concentrate on shallow water ponds with abundant seeds," he said.

Good bets include Gloyd Seeps Wildlife Area off Road 16 and Stratford Road, the Winchester and Frenchman Regulated Access Areas, small potholes associated with the North Potholes Wildlife Area, the Columbia Basin National Wildlife Refuge’s Marsh Unit 1, and Baile Memorial Youth Ranch and Windmill Ranch Regulated Access Areas near the town of Mesa, Moore said.

Moore said goose hunters will find thousands of small Canada geese staging in the Stratford Area, feeding on nearby wheat fields. "The birds are taking off to feed at first light and returning to Stratford Reserve around 10:30 a.m." she said.  "Mixed in with the Canada geese are a few hundred lesser snow geese and the occasional tundra swan." 

WDFW Columbia Basin district wildlife biologist Rich Finger predicts goose hunting will ramp up in November when early season migrant Canada geese (Lesser and Taverners) begin to scatter from their initial staging area at Stratford Lake to alfalfa or grain fields within feeding distance from Moses Lake and the Columbia River. 

Finger reminds waterfowlers of lands enrolled in the Corn Stubble Retention Program for public hunting.  Fields are typically identified and enrolled during November and locations vary by year. Call or visit the Ephrata regional office for details.

Deer hunting ended Oct. 25 in the region. WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin reports greatly improved success rates measured at the traditional Chewuch deer hunter check stations in the Methow Valley.

"Check station data from both weekends of the season indicated nearly identical hunter pressure compared to last year," Fitkin said. "But the success rate improved by 88 percent over what we observed last year, despite the issuance of fewer antlerless permits.  Later season dates and cooler, wetter weather likely improved the success rate. The average age of harvested bucks was the highest in years, and the body condition of harvested animals appeared to be consistently excellent."

No reports in yet on how pheasant hunters are faring since the season opened Oct. 24. Hunters who want to take advantage of game-farm-raised rooster releases should see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm for site details

Wildlife viewing:   WDFW waterfowl specialist Mikal Moore says birdwatchers will find thousands of small Canada geese staging in the Stratford Area, feeding on nearby wheat fields. 

"The birds are taking off to feed at first light and returning to Stratford Reserve around 10:30 a.m." she said.  "Mixed in with the Canada geese are a few hundred lesser snow geese and the occasional tundra swan ." 

Frosty mornings and even snow in some areas are reminders to backyard birdwatchers that now is the time to stock supplemental feeding stations and provide ice-free water sources to enjoy close-up wildlife viewing.  WDFW wildlife biologists advise keeping backyard bird feeding stations clean and bird-friendly and recommend checking out all the "do’s and don’t’s" details at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/winter_feed.htm .

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Southcentral Washington

Fishing:   Paul Hoffarth, WDFW district fish biologist, reports Columbia River steelhead fishing in the Tri-Cities area has been picking up in the past week.

Although the steelhead and salmon sport fishery above the wooden powerline towers is closed, the steelhead fishery below the powerline towers is scheduled to continue through April 15, 2010.

"In the Ringold area this past week bank anglers averaged one steelhead for 6.6 hours of fishing and boat anglers averaged one steelhead for 4.8 pole hours, or 2.5 steelhead per boat," Hoffarth reported.

Hoffarth noted that through Oct. 25, an estimated 1,509 steelhead have been caught between the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick and the wooden powerline towers. Of these, 982 hatchery steelhead were harvested and 344 wild steelhead were caught and released.

The three-hatchery steelhead limit for the Columbia River from the Hwy 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick upstream to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers reverts back to a two hatchery steelhead limit Nov. 1.

Perry Harvester, WDFW regional habitat program manager, says some standard techniques are being used for the steelhead.

"Trolling lighted Brad’s Wiggler plugs work at night, and using dyed shrimp with purple/pink/black jigs in various combinations under a float work day or night," he said.  "Plugs and spinners can work during the day as well, but appear less effective than lighted plugs at night. In areas with faster moving water, drifted eggs or shrimp work, too."

Harvester also reports there are still bright coho salmon in the Klickitat River and in the Columbia River off the mouth of the Klickitat. The catch limit within that reach of the Columbia River was recently raised to three adults. 

Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist, reports a few of the region’s year-round lakes have recently been stocked with hatchery rainbow trout . He notes most rivers and streams are closed after Oct. 31. The exception is the Yakima River catch-and-release fishery, which should continue to provide opportunity this fall until colder weather sets in.

Hunting:   Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist, reports the Yakima Basin is providing excellent duck hunting since the season opener Oct. 17.

Jeff Bernatowicz, WDFW district wildlife biologist, reminds pheasant hunters, whose season opened Oct. 24, that the Millerguard release site for game-farm-raised rooster release has moved to the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area. "Target shooting became a safety problem at Millerguard," he explained. The new Whiskey Dick pheasant release site is located near Whiskey Dick Mountain, with best access from the Interstate 90 exit 115. Go north 1.2 miles through Kittitas until Patrick Ave., turn right on Patrick for 0.2 mile, left on No. 81 Road, one mile to Vantage Hwy., right on for 6.6 miles to an unmarked gravel road entrance.

The modern firearm elk season opens Oct. 31 and Bernatowicz reminds hunters that game management units (GMU) 328 (Naneum), 329 (Quilomene), 334 (Ellensburg), and 335 (Teanaway) have been changed to a "true spike bull" regulation. 

A true spike bull is one with both antlers without branching originating more than four inches above where the antlers attack to the skull.

"The change was made because most of the yearling bulls were being harvested during the general elk season," he said. "The low recruitment has left the Colockum herd well below bull escapement objectives."

Bernatowicz also notes an error in the hunting rules pamphlet – GMU 330 (West Bar) is not open to general season elk hunting.

As for prospects, Bernatowicz expects bull harvest to be down. "Our elk calf ratio data collected in February and March was consistently low across the range," he said. "In the Colockum herd, with a total of 4,000 elk, we have 20 calves per 100 cows and just five bulls per 100 cows. In the Yakima herd, with a total of 9,200 elk, we have 30 calves per 100 cows and 17 bulls per 100 cows. Since calves surveyed in March are spike bulls in the fall, chances of taking one this season are down."

Michael Livingston, WDFW biologist, says elk hunting in the southeast district is limited to lands surrounding the west and south boundaries of the Hanford Reach National Monument (GMU 372). 

"Hunts are geared toward addressing crop damage on surrounding wheat farms, vineyards and orchards," he said.  "Access is extremely limited to either a couple pieces of state land north of Prosser and Benton City and private land through special permit drawings." Livingston said the best way to secure access is to apply for a special permit through the Landowner Hunt Program. If selected, permit holders are guaranteed a one-day guided hunt.

Most permits are limited to antlerless opportunity for youth hunters, but a few if any elk permits are issued each year. Surveys in January 2009 yielded a total herd estimate of 639 elk with 49 bulls and 15 calves per 100 cows. The high bull ratio is typical for this herd since they can seek refuge on the federal Hanford lands during hunting season. The calf count was below average and was likely a result of the stress the cows experienced from a wildfire that burned in August 2007.

Wildlife viewing: Frosty mornings and snow in some areas are reminders to backyard birdwatchers that now is the time to stock supplemental feeding stations and provide ice-free water sources to enjoy close-up wildlife viewing. WDFW wildlife biologists advise keeping backyard bird feeding stations clean and bird-friendly and recommend checking out all the "do’s and don’t’s" details at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/backyard/winter_feed.htm

Timberland Bank Corp Reports Profit, Remains Cautiously Optimistic

For the first nine months of fiscal 2009, the Company reported net income of $27,000. However, income available to common shareholders after adjusting for the preferred stock dividend and the preferred stock discount accretion was a loss of $489,000, or ($0.07) per diluted common share. This compares to net income of $2.66 million or $0.40 per diluted common share for the first nine months of fiscal 2008 when no preferred dividends were due.

Fiscal Third Quarter 2009 Highlights: (quarter ended June 30, 2009 compared to the quarter ended June 30, 2008)

 

--  Capital levels remain exceptionally strong: Tier 1 Capital Ratio at     12.30%; Total Risk Based Capital at 16.19% --  Revenues (excluding OTTI charges and the June 2008 loss on securities)     increased 7% to $9.0 million from $8.4 million --  Non-interest income (excluding OTTI charges and the June 2008 loss on     securities) increased 45% to $2.8 million --  Construction and land development loans decreased 30% year over year     and 12% from the prior fiscal quarter --  Tangible book value per common share was $9.36 at quarter end --  Full service branch in Chehalis opened in May 2009     

 

"The economic recession has significantly impacted the Pacific Northwest," said Michael R. Sand, President and CEO. "There are numerous opinions regarding the duration of this recession however, according to the July 13th Current Economic Indicators Letter produced by the Puget Sound Economic Forecaster, the Northwest may be seeing early signs of recovery." The newsletter states: '…we may be witnessing the first signs of the regional economic recovery. Over the three-month period ending in May, closed home sales increased at a 28.9 percent annual rate, while residential building permits rose at a 48.9 percent rate. Home prices fell at a 19.9 percent rate between February and May but increased at a 15.3 percent rate between March and May. More specifically, the average house price, after dropping from $368,600 in February to $341,500 in March, rose to $350,200 in May. It is too early to conclude that the housing market has found its way back, especially considering the extremely low volume of home sales and housing permits at the present time, but these are the kind of numbers that one would expect to see around the turning point.'

"Possibly the authors of the above quote, the economists Conway and Pedersen, are correct in their analysis. We remain cautiously optimistic that our region will begin to climb out of one of the worst economic recessions this country has experienced," Sand continued. "The upturn in home sales is reducing the housing supply and low mortgage rates are contributing to better affordability. With that said, we continue to see stress in our loan portfolio, primarily in the construction and land related segments. We are well positioned from a capital and a potential earnings perspective to succeed during this downturn. Timberland retains excellent liquidity, substantial capital and a diversified deposit base not dependent on brokered deposits."

Capital Ratios and Asset Quality

Timberland Bancorp remains very well capitalized with a total risk-based capital ratio of 16.19% and a Tier 1 capital ratio of 12.30% at June 30, 2009.

The non-performing assets ("NPAs") to total assets ratio was 4.94% at June 30, 2009 compared to 3.32% at March 31, 2009. During the quarter ended March 31, 2009 net charge-offs were $609,000 compared to $1.17 million during the quarter ended March 31, 2009. The allowance for loan losses totaled $12.4 million at June 30, 2009, or 2.23% of total loans compared to $12.0 million, or 2.13% of loans receivable at March 31, 2009 and $7.1 million, or 1.26% of loans receivable one year ago.

Non-performing loans ("NPLs") increased to $25.1 million at June 30, 2009 and were comprised of 46 loans and 38 credit relationships. Included in the NPLs are:

 

--  5 - Land development loans totaling $5.88 million of which the largest     has a balance of $2.12 million --  2 - Condominium construction loans totaling $5.68 million of which the     largest has a balance of $4.29 million --  8 - Commercial real estate loans totaling $5.50 million of which the     largest has a balance of $1.65 million --  13 - Land loans totaling $3.38 million of which the largest has a     balance of $986,000 --  7 - One-to-four family home loans totaling $2.32 million of which the     largest loan has a balance of $995,000 --  7 - One-to-four family spec construction loans totaling $2.17 million     of which the largest loan has a balance of $546,000 --  2 - Second mortgage loans secured by liens on one-to-four family homes     totaling $92,000 of which the largest loan has a balance of $62,000 --  1 - Commercial business loan with a balance of $78,000 secured by a     lien on three condominium units --  1 - Equipment loan with a balance of $15,000     

 

Since June 30, 2009 one land loan with a balance of $81,000 was brought current and one condominium construction loan with a balance of $1.39 million became other real estate owned ("OREO"). The OREO total at June 30, 2009 was $7.70 million. The balance was comprised of 27 individual properties representing 11 relationships. Eight of the properties have accepted earnest money agreements on them which, if closed, will result in a $1.73 million reduction in the OREO balance. The largest OREO property has a balance of $2.26 million and consists of a 78 lot plat located in Richland, Washington. The Richland/Kennewick/Pasco market is currently one of Washington State's better performing economic areas. Timberland continues to actively manage the disposition of OREO properties and has seen increased buyer interest in OREO properties.

Net charge-offs totaled $609,000 for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 and included the following:

 

--  $340,000 on one land development loan --  $215,000 on eight speculative construction loans --  $39,000 on two single family home loans --  $11,000 on a consumer auto loan --  $4,000 on six land loans     

 

Balance Sheet Management

Total assets decreased 2% during the quarter to $675.7 million at June 30, 2009 from $693.0 million at March 31, 2009. The $17.3 million decrease in total assets is primarily a result of a $12.9 million decrease in cash equivalents and an $8.6 million decrease in net loans receivable. During the quarter the Company used a portion of its excess liquidity to repay $26.0 million in brokered certificates of deposit. The Company continues to maintain a high level of liquidity, both on balance sheet and through off-balance sheet access to funds. Liquidity as measured by cash equivalents and available for sale investments securities to liabilities increased to 9.9% at June 30, 2009, from 7.2% one year ago. "We continue to work to improve the mix of loans in our portfolio, specifically by reducing our exposure to construction and land development loans, which have decreased more than $60 million year over year," said Dean Brydon, Chief Financial Officer. Although loan originations totaled $94.8 million during the current quarter, net loans receivable decreased 2% to $545.8 million at June 30, 2009, from $554.4 million at March 31, 2009. During the current quarter the one-to-four family speculative construction portfolio decreased by 21% and the land development portfolio decreased by 14%. "Combined, we have reduced our exposure to construction and land development loans by 30% from a year ago," Brydon added.

 

LOAN PORTFOLIO ($ in thousands)     June 30, 2009      March 31, 2009     June 30, 2008                     Amount   Percent   Amount   Percent   Amount   Percent                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  ------- Mortgage Loans:   One-to-four    family          $110,338       19% $120,519       20% $105,791       17%   Multi-family       25,702        4    22,472        4    37,465        6   Commercial        178,941       30   164,778       27   140,785       23   Construction and    land    development      142,006       24   160,980       26   202,029       32   Land               65,736       11    67,388       11    56,489        9                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  -------     Total mortgage      loans          522,723       88   536,137       88   542,559       87 Consumer Loans:   Home equity and    second mortgage   41,950        7    43,948        7    46,771        7   Other              10,107        2    10,767        2    11,292        2                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  -------     Total consumer      loans           52,057        9    54,715        9    58,063        9 Commercial business  loans               15,199        3    15,624        3    23,307        4                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  ------- Total loans        $589,979      100% $606,476      100% $623,929      100% Less:   Undisbursed    portion of    construction    loans in    process          (29,447)           (37,543)           (57,335)   Unearned income    (2,326)            (2,511)            (2,865)   Allowance for    loan losses      (12,440)           (12,049)            (7,076)                    --------           --------           -------- Total loans  receivable, net   $545,766           $554,373           $556,653                    ========           ========           ========  (1) Includes loans held for sale    CONSTRUCTION LOAN COMPOSITION ($ in thousands)     June 30, 2009      March 31, 2009     June 30, 2008                              Percent            Percent            Percent                              of Loan            of Loan            of Loan                     Amount  Portfolio  Amount  Portfolio  Amount  Portfolio                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  ------- Custom and owner /  builder           $ 34,373        6% $ 35,061        6% $ 48,384        8% Speculative          19,332        3    24,393        4    36,979        6 Commercial real  estate              42,056        7    47,642        8    66,846       10 Multi-family  (including  condominium)        25,631        4    29,979        5    19,044        3 Land development     20,614        4    23,905        4    30,776        5                    --------           --------           --------   Total    construction    loans           $142,006           $160,980           $202,029 

 

Loan demand remained strong as loan originations totaled $94.8 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 compared to $98.3 million for the preceding quarter and $80.1 million for the quarter ended one year ago. Increased loan originations in the past two quarters were primarily a result of increased demand to refinance one-to-four family mortgage loans at historically low interest rates. Timberland Bank continues to sell fixed rate one-to-four family mortgage loans into the secondary market for asset-liability management purposes and to generate non-interest income. During the quarter ended June 30, 2009, fixed-rate one-to-four family mortgage loan sales totaled $69.6 million compared to $60.7 million for the preceding quarter and $16.0 million for the quarter ended one year ago.

Timberland's investment securities decreased by $837,000 during the quarter to $24.5 million at June 30, 2009 from $25.3 million at March 31, 2009, primarily as a result of regular amortization and prepayments and a $125,000 credit related other-than-temporary impairment ("OTTI") charge on 17 private label mortgage-backed securities that were acquired in the in-kind redemption from the AMF family of mutual funds in June 2008.

 

DEPOSIT BREAKDOWN ($ in thousands)                      June 30, 2009      March 31, 2009     June 30, 2008                     Amount   Percent   Amount   Percent   Amount   Percent                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  ------- Non-interest  bearing           $ 50,153       10% $ 53,783       11% $ 50,701       11% N.O.W. checking     102,186       21    95,093       19    90,476       19 Savings              56,303       11    54,525       11    58,604       12 Money market         61,992       13    62,940       12    48,082       10 Certificates of  deposit under  $100               140,924       29   139,863       28   128,791       27 Certificates of  deposit $100 and  over                75,861       16    73,703       14    77,343       16 Certificates of  deposit -  brokered                --       --    25,991        5    25,937        5                    --------  -------  --------  -------  --------  -------   Total deposits   $487,419      100% $505,898      100% $479,934      100%                    ========  =======  ========  =======  ========  ======= 

 

Total deposits decreased 4% to $487.4 million at June 30, 2009, from $505.9 million at March 31, 2009 primarily as a result of a $26.0 million decrease in brokered certificate of deposit ("CDs") accounts. Excluding brokered CDs, deposits increased 2% to $487.4 million at June 30, 2009, from $479.9 million at March 31, 2009. This increase was primarily due to an increase in N.O.W. checking account balances.

Total shareholders' equity increased $644,000 to $89.0 million at June 30, 2009, from $88.3 million at March 31, 2009 primarily due to net income of $1.06 million and a $474,000 reduction in accumulated other comprehensive loss. These increases to shareholders' equity were partially offset by dividends to common and preferred shareholders.

Operating Results

Fiscal third quarter operating revenue (net interest income before provision for loan losses, plus non-interest income excluding OTTI charges and the June 2008 loss on the redemption of mutual funds) increased 7% to $9.0 million compared to $8.4 million in the like quarter a year ago. The increase was primarily a result of increased non-interest income from loan sales (gain on sale of loans and servicing income recorded) and increased non-interest income from service charges on deposits. For the first nine months of fiscal 2009, operating revenues (excluding OTTI charges and loss on redemption of mutual funds) increased 7% to $26.9 million from $25.1 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2008. The increase was primarily a result of increased non-interest income from loan sales, increased fee income on deposit accounts and a $134,000 non-recurring gain from a change in the Bank's investment in bank owned life insurance ("BOLI").

Net interest income before the provision for loan losses decreased 5% to $6.2 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2009, from $6.5 million for the like quarter one year ago with interest and dividend income decreasing 7% and interest expense decreasing 12%. The decrease in net interest income was primarily due to an increase in non-accrual interest and margin compression due to the lower interest rate environment. In spite of the challenging interest rate environment, Timberland's net interest margin remained strong at 3.86% for the current quarter, a decrease of 20 basis points from 4.06% for the quarter ended March 31, 2009 and a decrease of 37 basis points from 4.23% for the quarter a year ago. The reversal of interest income on loans placed on non-accrual status during the quarter ended June 30, 2009 reduced the net interest margin by approximately 22 basis points.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2009, net interest income before the provision for loan losses decreased 5% to $19.1 million from $20.1 million in the like period a year ago. Net interest margin year to date was 4.03%, down 39 basis points from a year ago.

In the third fiscal quarter Timberland recorded a provision of $1.0 million to its allowance for loan losses, compared to $5.2 million in the preceding quarter and $500,000 in the like quarter in the prior fiscal year. For the first nine months of fiscal 2009, the provision for loan losses totaled $7.5 million, compared to $2.4 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2008. Net charge-offs for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 totaled $609,000 compared to $1.17 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2009 and $121,000 for the quarter ended June 30, 2008. Year to date, net charge-offs were $3.0 million compared to $121,000 in the first nine months one year ago.

Timberland's total operating (non-interest) expenses increased 30% to $6.4 million for the third fiscal quarter from $4.9 million from the like quarter one year ago and increased 17% from $5.4 million from the immediately prior quarter. The increased expenses during the current quarter were primarily due to increased FDIC insurance expenses (including a special FDIC assessment of $300,000), increased OREO related expenses and increased loan monitoring and collection related expenses. Year to date, total operating expenses increased 16% to $17.4 million from $15.0 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2008.

About Timberland Bancorp, Inc.

Timberland Bancorp operates 22 branches in the state of Washington in Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Ocean Shores, Montesano, Elma, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, Puyallup, Edgewood, Tacoma, Spanaway (Bethel Station), Gig Harbor, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Auburn, Chehalis, Winlock, and Toledo. Timberland Bank received a four-star rating from Bauer Financial, a widely recognized independent bank rating agency.

 

TIMBERLAND BANCORP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT                   Three Months Ended ($ in thousands, except per share amounts)  June 30,   March 31,  June 30, (unaudited)                                  2009       2009       2008                                            ---------  ---------  ---------         Interest and dividend income         Loans receivable                   $   9,240  $   9,419  $   9,825         Investments and mortgage-backed          securities                              322        347        235         Dividends from mutual funds and          FHLB stock                                9          9        272         Federal funds sold                         8          5         28         Interest bearing deposits in banks        32         21          8                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Total interest and dividend              income                            9,611      9,801     10,368          Interest expense         Deposits                               2,440      2,385      2,703         FHLB advances                            979        999      1,161         Other borrowings                          --         --          4                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Total interest expense             3,419      3,384      3,868                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Net interest income                6,192      6,417      6,500          Provision for loan losses              1,000      5,176        500                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Net interest income after              provision for loan losses         5,192      1,241      6,000          Non-interest income         Total OTTI on securities                (522)    (1,742)        --         Less: portion recorded as other          comprehensive loss                      397        749         --                                            ---------  ---------  ---------         Net OTTI loss recognized                (125)      (993)        --          Service charges on deposits            1,066      1,009        948         Gain on sale of loans, net               414        340        127         Loss on redemption of mutual funds        --         --     (2,822)         Bank owned life insurance ("BOLI")          net earnings                            123        256        121         Servicing income on loans sold           607        703        234         ATM transaction fees                     326        306        329         Other                                    263        291        170                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Total non-interest income          2,674      1,912       (893)          Non-interest expense         Salaries and employee benefits         2,919      2,826      2,812         Premises and equipment                   719        696        519         Advertising                              252        229        228         OREO and other repossessed items          expense                                 391         99         --         ATM expenses                             162        161        136         FDIC insurance expense                   400         99         25         Postage and courier                      203        126        129         Amortization of core deposit          intangible                               54         54         62         State and local taxes                    152        154        149         Professional fees                        199        213        175         Other                                    922        785        684                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Total non-interest expense         6,373      5,442      4,919          Income (loss) before federal and          state income taxes                    1,493     (2,289)       188         Provision (benefit) for federal and          state income taxes                      435       (896)       734                                            ---------  ---------  ---------             Net income (loss)              $   1,058  $  (1,393) $    (546)                                            =========  =========  =========          Preferred stock dividends          $     210  $     208  $      --         Preferred stock discount accretion        79         --         --                                            ---------  ---------  ---------         Net income (loss) avail. to common          shareholders:                     $     769  $  (1,601) $    (546)                                            =========  =========  =========          Earnings (loss) per common share:             Basic                          $    0.12  $   (0.24) $   (0.08)             Diluted                        $    0.12  $   (0.24) $   (0.08)         Weighted average common shares          outstanding:             Basic                          6,645,229  6,614,216  6,446,303             Diluted                        6,645,229  6,614,216  6,524,818               TIMBERLAND BANCORP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES         CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT             Nine Months Ended         ($ in thousands, except per share) June 30,              June 30,         (unaudited)                          2009                  2008                                            ---------             ---------         Interest and dividend income         Loans receivable                   $  28,229             $  30,947         Investments and mortgage-backed          securities                            1,081                   625         Dividends from mutual funds and          FHLB stock                               29                 1,090         Federal funds sold                        36                    87         Interest bearing deposits in banks        62                    22                                            ---------             ---------              Total interest and dividend               income                          29,437                32,771          Interest expense         Deposits                               7,321                 9,153         FHLB advances                          3,042                 3,510         Other borrowings                           1                    18                                            ---------             ---------             Total interest expense            10,364                12,681                                            ---------             ---------             Net interest income               19,073                20,090          Provision for loan losses              7,491                 2,400                                            ---------             ---------             Net interest income after              provision for loan losses        11,582                17,690          Non-interest income         Total OTTI on securities              (2,685)                   --         Less: portion recorded as other          comprehensive loss                      397                    --                                            ---------             ---------         Net OTTI loss recognized              (2,288)                   --          Service charges on deposits            3,224                 2,292         Gain on sale of loans, net               918                   364         Loss on redemption of mutual funds        --                (2,822)         BOLI net earnings                        501                   360         Servicing income on loans sold         1,460                   531         ATM transaction fees                     920                   930         Other                                    756                   504                                            ---------             ---------             Total non-interest income          5,491                 2,159          Non-interest expense         Salaries and employee benefits         8,818                 8,718         Premises and equipment                 2,079                 1,634         Advertising                              672                   678         OREO and other repossessed items          expense                                 552                    --         ATM expenses                             448                   426         FDIC insurance expense                   586                    51         Postage and courier                      448                   376         Amortization of core deposit          intangible                              163                   186         State and local taxes                    449                   447         Professional fees                        547                   467         Other                                  2,589                 1,993                                            ---------             ---------             Total non-interest expense        17,351                14,976          Income (loss) before federal and          state income taxes                     (278)                4,873         Provision (benefit) for federal          and state income taxes                 (305)                2,218                                            ---------             ---------             Net income                     $      27             $   2,655                                            =========             =========          Preferred stock dividends          $     437             $      --         Preferred stock discount accretion        79                    --                                            ---------             ---------         Net income (loss) avail. to common          shareholders                      $    (489)            $   2,655         Earnings (loss) per common share:             Basic                          $   (0.07)            $    0.41             Diluted                        $   (0.07)            $    0.40         Weighted average common shares          outstanding:             Basic                          6,609,915             6,467,874             Diluted                        6,609,915             6,587,120   TIMBERLAND BANCORP, INC. CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET ($ in thousands, except per share amounts) (unaudited)                                             June 30,   March 31,   June 30,                                              2009       2009        2008 Assets                                     ---------  ---------  --------- Cash equivalents:   Cash and due from financial institutions $  12,118  $  10,001  $  14,776   Interest-bearing deposits in other banks    31,853     46,892      3,196   Federal funds sold                              --         --      5,565                                            ---------  ---------  ---------                                               43,971     56,893     23,537  Investments and mortgage-backed securities:   Held to maturity                            10,554     10,726     14,684   Available for sale                          13,898     14,563     18,828 FHLB stock                                     5,705      5,705      5,705                                            ---------  ---------  ---------                                               30,157     30,994     39,217  Loans receivable                             555,961    558,644    562,664 Loans held for sale                            2,245      7,778      1,065 Less: Allowance for loan losses              (12,440)   (12,049)    (7,076)                                            ---------  ---------  --------- Net loans receivable                         545,766    554,373    556,653   Accrued interest receivable                    2,918      2,913      2,932 Premises and equipment                        18,174     17,698     16,286 OREO and other repossessed items               7,698      2,827        879 BOLI                                          13,403     13,280     12,775 Goodwill                                       5,650      5,650      5,650 Core deposit intangible                          809        863      1,034 Mortgage servicing rights                      2,366      1,912      1,277 Other assets                                   4,812      5,601      3,514                                            ---------  ---------  --------- Total Assets                               $ 675,724  $ 693,004  $ 663,754                                            =========  =========  =========  Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity Non-interest-bearing deposits              $  50,153  $  53,783  $  50,697 Interest-bearing deposits                    437,266    452,115    429,237                                            ---------  ---------  ---------   Total deposits                             487,419    505,898    479,934  FHLB advances                                 95,000     95,000    104,645 Other borrowings: repurchase agreements          666        689      1,007 Other liabilities and accrued expenses         3,652      3,074      3,393                                            ---------  ---------  --------- Total Liabilities                            586,737    604,661    588,979                                            ---------  ---------  ---------  Shareholders' Equity Preferred stock - $.01 par value;  1,000,000 shares authorized;                 15,487     15,437         --  June 30, 2009 - 16,641 shares issued  and outstanding  March 31, 2009 - 16,641 shares issued  and outstanding Common stock - $.01 par value; 50,000,000  shares authorized;                           10,328     10,301      8,775  June 30, 2009 - 7,045,036 shares issued  and outstanding  March 31, 2009 - 7,045,036 shares issued  and outstanding  June 30, 2008 - 6,901,453 shares issued  and outstanding Unearned shares - Employee Stock Ownership  Plan                                         (2,578)    (2,644)    (2,842) Retained earnings                             66,802     66,775     68,822 Accumulated other comprehensive income  (loss)                                       (1,052)    (1,526)        20                                            ---------  ---------  --------- Total Shareholders' Equity                    88,987     88,343     74,775                                            ---------  ---------  --------- Total Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity $ 675,724  $ 693,004  $ 663,754                                            =========  =========  =========    KEY FINANCIAL RATIOS AND DATA ($ in thousands, except per share amounts) (unaudited)                                                  Three Months Ended                                           -------------------------------                                            June 30,  March 31,  June 30,                                              2009      2009       2008                                           ---------  ---------  --------- PERFORMANCE RATIOS: Return (loss) on average assets (a)            0.61%     (0.82%)    (0.33%) Return (loss) on average equity (a)            4.79%     (6.10%)    (2.91%) Net interest margin (a)                        3.86%      4.06%      4.23% Efficiency ratio (b)                          71.88%     65.34%     87.73%                                                   Nine Months Ended                                           -------------------------------                                            June 30,              June 30,                                              2009                  2008                                           ---------             --------- Return on average assets (a)                   0.01%                 0.54% Return on average equity (a)                   0.04%                 4.73% Net interest margin (a)                        4.03%                 4.42% Efficiency ratio (b)                          70.64%                67.31%                                              June 30,  March 31,   June 30,                                              2009      2009       2008                                           ---------  ---------  --------- ASSET QUALITY RATIOS: Non-performing loans                      $  25,113  $  19,867  $   9,391 Non-performing investment securities            572        310         -- OREO and other repossessed assets             7,698      2,827        879                                           ---------  ---------  --------- Total non-performing assets               $  33,383  $  23,004  $  10,270  Non-performing assets to total assets (c)      4.94%      3.32%      1.55% Allowance for loan losses to non-performing  loans                                           50%        61%        75% Troubled debt restructured loans          $      --   $     --  $      -- Past due 90 days and still accruing       $     830   $     --  $      --  CAPITAL RATIOS: Tier 1 leverage capital                       12.30%     12.47%     10.41% Tier 1 risk based capital                     14.93%     15.01%     12.08% Total risk based capital                      16.19%     16.27%     13.33%  BOOK VALUES: Book value per common share (d)            $  10.42   $  10.18  $   10.83 Book value per common share (e)            $  10.80   $  10.72  $   11.46 Tangible book value per common share  (d) (f)                                   $   9.36   $   9.26  $    9.87 Tangible book value per common share  (e) (f)                                   $   9.84   $   9.75  $   10.44  (a) Annualized (b) Calculation includes the OTTI charge incurred during the periods     ended March 31, 2009 and June 30, 2009. Excluding OTTI charges the     efficiency ratio was 70.88% for three months ended June 30, 2009;     58.38% for the three months ended March 31, 2009; and 64.62% for     the nine months ended June 30, 2009. (c) Non-performing assets include non-accrual loans, non-accrual     investment securities, and other real estate owned and other     repossessed assets (d) Calculation includes ESOP shares not committed to be released (e) Calculation excludes ESOP shares not committed to be released (f) Calculation subtracts goodwill and core deposit intangible from the     equity component                                                  Three Months Ended AVERAGE BALANCE SHEET:                    -------------------------------                                            June 30,  March 31,   June 30,                                              2009      2009       2008                                           ---------  ---------  --------- Average total loans                       $ 562,105  $ 568,981  $ 560,515 Average total interest earning assets (a)   641,468    632,479    614,383 Average total assets                        688,411    678,750    659,998 Average total interest bearing deposits     450,974    434,896    415,495 Average FHLB advances and other borrowings   95,612     97,786    110,903 Average shareholders' equity                 88,433     91,368     74,956                                                  Nine Months Ended                                           -------------------------------                                            June 30,              June 30,                                              2009                  2008                                           ---------             --------- Average total loans                       $ 565,274             $ 548,346 Average total interest earning assets (a)   630,421               605,949 Average total assets                        676,809               652,804 Average total interest bearing deposits     438,762               412,904 Average FHLB advances and other borrowings   97,954               109,794 Average shareholders' equity                 85,445                74,901  (a) Includes loans on non-accrual status 

 

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This report contains certain "forward-looking statements." The Company desires to take advantage of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and is including this statement for the express purpose of availing itself of the protection of such safe harbor with forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements may describe future plans or strategies and include the Company's expectations of future financial results. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that might cause actual results to differ materially from stated objectives. These risk factors include but are not limited to the effect of interest rate changes, competition in the financial services market for both deposits and loans as well as regional and general economic conditions. The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "project," and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. The Company's ability to predict results or the effect of future plans or strategies is inherently uncertain and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements.

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

The increased daily limit was prompted largely by a projected return of 700,000 coho salmon to the Columbia River Basin this year, said Pat Frazier, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The impending run of coho, the majority of which were reared in hatcheries, promises to be the largest since 2001.

"The main reason for producing salmon in hatcheries is to give people a chance to catch them," Frazier said.  "Beyond that, we want anglers to help remove those hatchery fish to prevent them from interfering with wild salmon on the spawning grounds."

The six-fish limit will be in effect on the Cowlitz, Elochoman, Grays (including the West Fork), Kalama, Lewis (including the North Fork), Toutle (including the Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers, plus the Klickitat River which spills into the Columbia above Bonneville Dam. Last year, only the Cowlitz River had a six-salmon daily limit. 

The daily limit on the mainstem Columbia River, which opens for salmon fishing Aug. 1 upstream to Pasco, remains the same – two adult salmon (but only one chinook), or two steelhead, or one of each – to conserve fish listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

As in past years, anglers must release any wild coho they intercept in all waters up to the Hood River Bridge. Hatchery fish can be identified by a clipped adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar.

Similar rules will require the release of wild chinook salmon returning to a number of Columbia River tributaries, where WDFW is engaged in a multi-year effort to mass-mark all hatchery fish.

For example, anglers fishing the Elochoman and Kalama rivers will be required for the first time to release any wild chinook – adults or jacks – they intercept. In addition, unmarked jack salmon must be released on the Cowlitz, Toutle (including the North Fork and Green River), Washougal, Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake.

The retention rules adopted for those rivers reflect staggered implementation of mass-marking hatchery chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River Basin, said Heather Bartlett, WDFW salmon and steelhead division manager. All hatchery salmon reared in state-operated facilities in the region were marked this year, she said.

"Our objective for these fisheries is to provide protection for wild salmon, while maximizing fishing opportunities for hatchery fish wherever possible," Bartlett said.  "The new rules in effect for Columbia River tributaries this year are a clear example of our efforts to achieve our conservation goals while still providing great fishing opportunities."

Earlier this year, WDFW also took action to realign hatchery production on the lower Columbia River to reduce risks posed by hatchery fish to the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead populations. Those actions, which included closing the Elochoman Hatchery, were designed to meet recovery goals established by Lower Columbia Basin Salmon Recovery Plan and standards set by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group. 

But maintaining viable fisheries in the region was also a major consideration in that initiative, Bartlett said. Under the department's Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries Plan, 95 percent of fall chinook production, 91 percent of early-returning coho production and 94 percent of late-returning coho production will be maintained.

"Of course, it will take a few years before we see the effect of the changes in production, and returns will always be affected by ocean and fresh-water conditions," Bartlett said. "For now, anglers can help us meet recovery goals for wild salmon by taking home a bunch of hatchery coho and releasing all wild coho."

This year's fishing rules for the Columbia River, its tributaries and other waters in Washington state are described in WDFW's Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).