LAKE MILLS - The Elwha River is the stuff of fable. Before the construction of Elwha Dam in 1918 and Glines Canyon Dam in 1927, the 45 miles of water tumbling 4,500 feet out of the Olympic Mountains, it was the home of perhaps the most amazing run of Chinook salmon on Planet Earth.
Now, with the start of a teardown project that Popular Mechanics regards as the "world's biggest dam removal" right around the corner, the Elwha is at the threshold of a three-decade recovery process that could restore the system to its place in Northwest legend.
As our buddy J.D. Richey said at FishWithJD.com, "What’s really freakin’ cool is the river above the dams flows largely through Olympic National Park, where the spawning and rearing habitat is as pristine as it was before the dams!"
8CHECK OUT THIS COOL "POPULAR MECHANICS" STORY on the desconstruction of the Elwha dams, a project that's been called the "world's biggest dam removel".
8READ THE TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE'S STORY on "A wild future for the long-dammed Elwha River.
8CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE TIMES' COVERAGE of the clearing of a 37-acre grove of Alder trees in preparation of the 2011 start of dam deconstruction.
PORTLAND - We're all so focused on Springer Fever that the humble walleye has been all but forgotten on the Columbia River.
Poor, under-appreciated walleye. Brought to the Weste Coast in milk containers - aboard trains bound from the Midwest - and unceremoniously dumped into various fisheries in Washington and Oregon, Sander vitrius is a second citizen in the salmon/steelhead-mad Northwest.
This time of year, though, as the general angling public dogpiles on springers, the Columbia River is Ground Zero for some of the biggest walleye in the world.
This 18-plus-pound specimen - caught incidentally while fishing for spring Chinook around Coon Island - is a prime example of how big our walleye get in the Columbia system.
We'll explore the lower-river spring walleye bite this Saturday on NW Wild Country.
8CHECK OUT THE KATU.COM FISH TALES GALLERY and see who's catching what in the Pacific Northwest.
WALLOWA, Ore. - If you're a world-record hunter, put the small northeast Oregon town of Joseph on your "hit list". It's only a matter of time before this high-mountain donkey-kokanee factory kicks out the biggest landlocked sockeye the world has ever seen.
Evidence? I present to you the 8.23-pound fish caught March 24 by Wan Teece of Enterprise, a 26.25 x 16-incher that eclipsed a record set only a month earlier (a measly 7-pound, 8-ouncer that held the record for exactly 27 days). Teece's fish is believed to be the largest kokanee ever caught in an American lake, and Wallowa's big-fish proclivity is quickly creeping up on the 9-pound, 6-ounce IGFA world record owned by Okanagan Lake in Canada.
8AS USUAL, ANDY WALGAMOTT OF NW SPORTSMAN IS ALL OVER IT in his latest "Editor's Blog".
ANACORTES, Wash. - For students of salmon-fishing history, the words "Puget Sound" and "big-dollar salmon derby" are synonymous. Many, many years ago, the Seattle metro area was the site of some of the richest salmon derbies the world has ever seen.
Jay Field is, apparently, an astute student of history. And YOU, my friend, should be an astute student of KA-CHINNNNNNG to the tune of $100,000. That's what awaits the winner of the just-announced Dash One Invitational Derby, to be held July 1-2 in Anacortes.
As Jay - the organizer of the Dash One Invitational - has hinted to the Wild Country crew in recent live interviews, it's high time that salmon anglers througout the country are given the opportunity to compete for "bass-type money".
MUCH, much more on the Dash One Invitational in coming weeks.
8FIND OUT ABOUT THE $160,000 DASH ONE INVITATIONAL HERE and be sure to tune in Saturday as we discuss the details of Washington's newest, richest derby.
SEATTLE - Run out to your closestt newsstand, Wild Country fans. The newly minted February issue of Northwest Sportsman is starting to filter its way through the racks at tackle stores and Auto Trader displays throughout the Pacific Northwest.
You might recognize the cover girl: Wild Country Crash Crew member Cami Bayer, with a dime-bright South Sound blackmouth.
Cami's cover is part of NWS' comprehensive February focus on Chinook, which includes a look at both saltwater and rivery kings. Walgamott has done his usual slam-bang job rounding up stories like the following:
n Outdoor Emporium tackle manager Tim Bush's Tour de Funk: a detailed story about Sekiu blackmouth, tapping into NWWC's own General Zog as the source.
n Some sweet where-to advice on where to land the first springers of the 2010 campaign.
n From the "Doh! Files", a story that details "five potential state record fish in Oregon and Washington that have been A) breaded and eaten several hours later instead of weighed and certified, B) barbecued and eaten by the neighbors instead of weighed and certified, C) filleted, smoked and eaten instead of .. well, you get it, and D) misweighed and released".
At 144 pages, it's another full load of great stories from a magazine that's quickly become one of the most-read outdoors titles on the West Coast.
- Joel Shangle
SEATTLE - Here's a brief lesson for freshman journalism students at the U.W., Seattle U. and Western: perspective, kids.
This morning's Seattle Times features a front-page piece about NOAA Fisheries' proposed no-boating restriction off the west side of San Juan Islands to protect endangered killer whales. The piece leads with: "The first baby orca of the year has been born to J pod, boosting an endangered population of whales that needs every birth it can get."
Rewind to Sept. 28, and my story on ESPNOutdoors.com on the exact same proposal: "Sport anglers will no longer be able to fish the west side of Washington’s San Juan Island during the peak of the summer and early-fall Chinook season if a new killer-whale protection zone is approved by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Fisheries)."
8CLICK HERE TO READ MY SEPTEMBER STORY ON EO and the potential affect of the proposed closure on your summer fishing options on one of the state's best Chinook fisheries.
8CLICK HERE TO READ THE JAN. 8 SEATTLE TIMES STORY on the same proposal.
NEWS FLASH: FLW won't be back to Columbia River in 2010
PITTSBURGH, Penn. - It’s been part of the Pacific Northwest bass-fishing gossip hotline since FLW Outdoors packed their bags and left Umatilla in late June following the WalMart FLW Series National Guard Western Division event on the Columbia River.
It’s no longer gossip: FLW won’t be back to the Pacific Northwest in 2010.
“For next year, we probably won’t be back to the Columbia River,” FLW Outdoors’ Charlie Evans confirmed today before the Day 3 weigh-in at the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup in Pittsburgh, Penn. “That said, we have every intention of returning to the Northwest. We love it up there. The people treated us great, and the fishing is, of course, phenomenal. It’s just a reaction to the economic conditions of our country.”
8CLICK HERE to read the rest of our exclusive Bass Report news flash.
FISH WIRE: Columbia's "near-record run" reduced; reality sets in
The Washington and Oregon Departments of Fish & Wildlife have finally cried "Uncle!" on the 2009 spring Chinook run on the Columbia River.
Near-record 300,000 fish this year? Not even close.
8 CLICK HERE for the NW Sportsman story on the downgrading of the 2009 spring Chinook run.
FISH WIRE: Drano's new boundaries mean more room for bank anglers ...
HOME VALLEY, Wash. - ... but no room for boaters to sneak into the "sweet spot" in the shadow of the Highway 14 bridge.
Anybody who's fished Drano Lake - be it from a boat or standing at "Cranky Bankie Point" - are familiar with the sweet sounds of springer season: "Hey, you bleepity bleep, you're fishing too close to the bridge! Give us some bleepin' room!"
Ah yes. Cooperation and harmony at their finest.
Reacting to "numerous concerns about bank and boat interactions near the outlet of Drano Lake during spring Chinook fisheries", the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife recently imposed a new "bank fishing only" area near the Highway 14 bridge. The no-boat restriction zone stretches from the easternmost pillar on the Highway 14 bridge to a new boundary marker on the north shore, a no-boat exclusion zone that prevents trollers from sliding into the little pocket under the north side of the bridge.
FLASH: MA 9/10 boosted to 45 days, Skagit kings open, 45-day season for Sekiu summer Chinook
SAN FRANCISCO - Befitting a 25th anniversary, the 2009 North of Falcon process will go down as a memorable one for western Washington salmon anglers.
The highlights of the 25-year-old season-setting process include an expansion in Puget Sound selective salmon fisheries, and the re-birth of a North Sound river fishery that hasn’t been open to sport anglers for over 15 years.
8CLICK HERE for NW Wild Country's ongoing coverage of the 2009-10 season structure.
WILD WIRE FLASH: Two former commissioners speak out against SB 5127
8CLICK HERE to read McGlenn's op/ed piece in the Daily Olympian
8 CLICK HERE to read Gutzwiler's letter in response to the HHC endorsement
WILD WIRE PODCAST: Discussing SSB 5127
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Continuing to cast the disinfecting light of awareness on SBB 5127, NWWC discussed this bill on the March 7 show.
8CLICK HERE to listen to CCA's Andy Marks' explanation of this dangerous new piece of legislation.
GUEST BLOG: Columbia allocation too slow, most restrictive since 2000
Finally, on February 11 fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set the spring Chinook season for the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
The process between the two states took too long due to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission being far more concerned about the needs of a few part-time gill-netters than that of thousands of recreational anglers, full-time fishing guides and retail businesses that depend on this fishery for their livelihoods.
Slow decision = bad decision: While everyone is thankful to finally have a decision, it came a full five weeks past the All Sports Dealer Show - where tackle dealers were reluctant to buy fishing tackle due to uncertainty about the pending season - three weeks past the Puyallup Sport Show and a full week past the opening day of the Portland Sport Show, where fishing guides were trying to book trips and retailers sell tackle without knowing when and where they could fish on the Columbia.
What stunned many was when the Oregon Commission refused to embrace the season and allocation recommendations brought forth by the very bi-state work group the Commissions had jointly appointed to deal with this bitterly contentious issue.
After the bi-state work group representatives recommended a sport/commercial allocation split, the full Washington Commission stuck to their agreement, while the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission abandoned their agreement with the work group recommendation and countered with a split far more favorable to the gill-netters.
It's baffling that Oregon's Governor did not advise his commission to do what's best for Oregon's ailing economy. Surely he didn't receive more letters from the 85 gill-netters that landed spring Chinook last year as opposed to those from the more than 600,000 licensed sport anglers that supply the Department of Fish and Wildlife with the majority of its funding.
What this means is that while the third largest return of hatchery spring Chinook since 1938 is predicted to ascend the Columbia, sport anglers can look forward to a season that is the most restrictive season since 2000. Escalating the conflict is the fact that this is the third time the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has allocated more to gill-netters and less to sport fishers since 2002.
What's open, when, where: While only a few fish show up this early in the season, the entire Columbia west of Bonneville Dam and lower Willamette downstream of the falls deadline at Oregon City is currently open to sport angling for hatchery fin-clipped spring chinook.
In what has become a complicated mess, the recent decision is as follows:
nHayden Island to Buoy 10: On the Columbia River west of Hayden Island power lines (the west towers near I-5), anglers will be able to fish 7 days a week from March 1 to 15 and three days a week (Thursday through Saturday) from March 19 to April 18.
nHayden Island to Bonneville: On the Columbia, from the Hayden Island power lines (west towers) upstream to Bonneville Dam, the season will run 7 days a week from March 1 to 22, and four days a week (Wednesday through Saturday) from March 25 to April 22.
The daily bag limit after March 1 will be two adipose fin-clipped salmon or steelhead, but only one may be a Chinook. The mainstem Columbia will be closed to sport fishing for the retention of shad and adipose fin-clipped steelhead except on days listed above open for spring salmon.
nWillamette River: On the Willamette, upstream to the falls at Oregon City, including the Multnomah Channel and Clackamas River downstream of the Highway 99 Bridge, the two fish/one Chinook season will be open for fin-clipped hatchery spring Chinook 7-days a week from March 1 to 15 and three days a week (Thursday through Saturday) from March 19 through April 30.
The sport season on the Columbia could have been far more generous (and far less complicated) had the states not chose to restrict sport anglers in favor of commercial netters.
A SAFE option: In response to recent events, many are calling to outlaw gillnetting on the lower Columbia. A better solution has been proposed by a group of retired fishery scientists. Their proposal is a plan to move the entire commercial gillnet fishery off the Columbia and into what's known as SAFE areas, creating a win for the fish, for the commercials and the sport anglers.
The SAFE for Salmon plan, when enacted, will put the sport fishery on the lower Columbia and provide the commercial gillnetting fleet off-channel access to harvest in what's known as safe areas - like Oregon's Young's Bay and Blind Sough. These terminal or "safe" areas provide commercial harvest away from where endangered salmon migrate.
Currently, gill-netters catch about 70 percent of their hatchery spring salmon in safe areas, so this expansion makes sense: for wild fish, sport anglers and for commercial fishers, too.
For more information on this subject, check out the Safe for Salmon website at: www.safeforsalmon.com.
FLASH: Gutzwiler: "We're not interested (in 60/40)"
ARLINGTON, Wash. - On Dec. 5, 2008, the bombs began to drop on the Columbia River Fish Working Group (CRFWG)and Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission. Now, it appears that Washington's commissioners are bunkered up and prepared to hold ground in the battle for Columbia River spring Chinook.
In an exclusive in-depth Tuesday interview with Washington commissioner Jerry Gutzwiler - one of three members of the Everegreen State commission who have participated in the CRFWG - I was given, in no uncertain terms, Washington's response to the Oregon commission's demand to change the sport/commercial allocation from 70/30 to 60/40: "We're not interested in doing that".
Check back here Wednesday evening for my exclusive Q&A with commissioner Gutzwiler, and be sure to tune in to Northwest Wild Country this Saturday, Jan. 31 as Gutzwiler joins us LIVE ON AIR to discuss the controversy surrounding Columbia River spring Chinook.
WILD WIRE FLASH: Voights Creek Hatchery damage: "Devastating"
As the floodwaters begin to recede throughout western Washington, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife hatchery managers are only now beginning to get a preview of flood damages done to numbers fish-rearing facilities.
"I'm out at (the hatchery) right now," DFW hatcheries division manager Ron Warren reported Jan. 9 as he waded through the muck and mud at Voights Creek Hatchery in Orting, Wash. "I managed this facility for five years back in the 90s, and all I can say is, this is devastating. The creek is completely out of the creek channel for a half-mile or more onto adjoining properties. There's so much gravel and mud (in the facility) that I can't even describe it."
WDFW employees were ordered to evacuate the Voights Creek facility earlier in the week as the Puyallup River system exploded over all-time flood levels, leaving 1.6 million fry chinook, 780,000 yearling coho, 1 million coho eggs and fry, and 150,000 yearling steelhead inside the facility.
"We're just trying our best to keep fish alive with temporary pumps and the hard work of staff," Warren said. "We're completely inoperable."
"We've been working around the clock for last 3 days at Tokul Creek, too," Warren said. "We've lost the use of the primary intake there. Right now we have temporary water to keep the steelhead on hand alive. We hope to keep it going to full rearing capcity, but, truthfully, we're trying to buy ourselves some time to evaluate and try to react from there."
WILD LINK: Oregon commissioners "need to put away their egos"
PORTLAND, Ore. - A truer sentence hath never been spoken: "Oregon commissioners made their point, but now need to put away their egos and pay closer attention to the ramifications."
This from Bill Monroe of The Oregonian, in a dead-accurate column titled "Spring salmon allocation battle: Oregon's turn".
8READ THE COLUMN here, and check Monroe's column again on Sunday for a follow-up to Friday's Oregon commission meeting.
WILD WIRE: Seminar speakers highlight Puyallup, Seattle shows
SEATTLE, Wash. - Break out your comfortable shoes: it's time to put some mileage on them in the show halls of the Puyallup Fairgrounds and the Qwest Field Events Center, sites of the Washington Sportsmen's Show and the Seattle Boat Show.
While I love every aspect of these two great shows, I really dig the laundry list of seminars that both locations offer the hunter, angler and boater of Pugetropolis. There's some serious learning to be done at these shows, courtesy of the regions best outdoorsmen and women!
8CLICK HERE for a link to the seminar schedule at the Seattle Boat Show.
8CLICK HERE for a link to the seminar schedule at the Western Washington Sportsmen's Show in Puyalup (featuring Wild Country co-host Mike Perusse).
Check back here for exclusive reports from the show halls, including a look at what's new, what's hot ... and what's just plain W-E-I-R-D.
SCOUTING REPORT: Thanksgiving week look-ahead
SEATTLE, Wash. - Welcome to the first Northwest Wild Country Scouting Report, our Sunday-afternoon spotting-scope analysis of the week ahead in the Wild Country.
Here are some links and tidbits to pay attention to the week of Nov. 24-31:
nPheasant season ends Nov. 30: Look for late-season bird plants for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend at many of the Westside's 26 release sites. WDFW Pheasant Release page.
nMinter Creek chum peak: Peak arrival at this South Sound stream is Nov. 15-30. Bring along a Kevlar vest and a spare game warden.
nColumbia Basin goose bonus: Canada goose hunting will be allowed on Nov. 27 & 28 (Thursday and Friday) in the Columbia Basin, where it's usually only open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.
nNorthern ducks on the way: Weather in the Alberta Prairie country has been cold and snowy this weekend, and with highs of 19 degrees (Fahrenheit!) expected in Grand Prairie by mid week, you can expect new greenheads to arrive in Washington en masse soon.
NEWS FLASH: Koenings out at WDFW?
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Message-board whispers of the retirement of Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife director Jeff Koenings have gradually grown to a dull roar this week as the Evergreen State sportfishing community awaits an enormous potential change in the state's fish and wildlife management scheme.
Rumors began to filter through the local message boards Wednesday morning - starting with this Gamefishin.com thread - and word from behind-the-scenes sport advocates is that it's only a matter of time before the Department announces Koenings' departure.
"We're hopefully optimistic," says Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association. "It's time for a change."
Stay tuned: Check back here often over the next 24 hours as Northwest Wild Country breaks the official news on Koenings' departure, and LISTEN LIVE this Saturday, Nov. 22 as we discuss the possible ramifications of a new WDFW director with Floor.
WILD WIRE: Wild Country racks up best ratings in show history!
SEATTLE, Wash. - It's taken about three weeks to soak in, but we've finally wrapped our minds around the results of the Arbitron Summer 2008 ratings book.
If ever there was a doubt that Northwest Wild Country was a Pacific Northwest fishing and hunting landmark, the numbers given to us by the Arbitron Corporation - the official audience tracker of American radio - confirm our beliefs. The Summer '08 survey numbers tell us that, not only are we the most listened-to radio program in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday mornings, but we're also (still!) the highest-rated outdoors radio news magazine in the United States.
By the numbers: Northwest Wild Country rang up an Arbitron "share" of 11.9 in the Seattle Metro survey this summer, which was almost double our closest competitors and well above some Seattle radio icons like KMPS and KISW. Those numbers translate into 66,000 live listeners per month!
The 11.9 is the biggest number we've put up in show history ... for now.
The trend continues: Our Summer 2008 ratings follow a trend of excellence for Northwest Wild Country: we've now been the cumulative No. 1 Saturday morning program in the dynamic Seattle market for the last 6 ratings periods combined.
A hearty thank-you from the entire Wild Country team. We're No. 1 because our listeners are No. 1! Keep it tuned to Sportsradio 950 KJR every Saturday morning, and don't forget to hit our On Demand Center for podcasts of shows that you might have missed.
WILD HEADLINES: Northwest Sportsman joins the PNW magazine game
SEATTLE, Wash. - With fall hunting seasons getting underway throughout the West Coast, Pacific Northwest hunters and anglers will have a spiffy new tool for their gear bags.
Northwest Sportsman magazine launches its debut issue this month throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, with an October cover that leads me to believe the buck and bull hunters of the region will be well-served.
The following is a release that went out this morning, introducing the new magazine to the PNW fishing & hunting masses:
NEW NW HUNTING & FISHING MAGAZINE LAUNCHED
The premiere issue of Northwest Sportsman is on its way to the mailboxes of tens of thousands of anglers and hunters in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana, as well as newsstands across the region this week.
Read the rest of the story HERE, and tune into Northwest Wild Country at 7 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 4 as we talk to NWS editor Andy Walgamott about the region's newest outdoors publication.
WILD HEADLINES: Continued Saturday domination for Wild Country
SEATTLE, Wash. - The Northwest Wild Country ratings juggernaut continues to roll over the Saturday morning competition, according to the latest ratings released by the Arbitron Corporation, the official ratings keeper of the American radio industry.
The Winter 2008 ratings book (January through March) signified another top-two market finish in the Seattle Metro area as Northwest Wild Country on Sportsradio 950 KJR finished second overall in the critical "men 25-54" demographic among the 21 AM & FM stations included in the survey. Our ratings share of 7.2 was just barely behind the 7.4 of Seattle rock icon KISW, and well ahead of the 5.5 share of the only two other AM stations in the top 10 (KOMO and KIRO, Seattle's most popular news talk stations).
This survey signifies the fourth time in the past five ratings periods that Northwest Wild Country has finished No. 1 or 2 in the Seattle Metro market. Combined with our No. 1 rating in the Winter 2007 ratings period and top-two finishes dating back to the Fall 2006 survey, Northwest Wild Country has been the most popular Saturday morning program in the Seattle market for the past 18 months!
Thanks for listening, everyone, and keep those requests and questions coming.
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