The Spokane River, and some of its native inhabitants, were in the spotlight Tuesday and Wednesday as a wide range of scientists, policy makers and industry leaders convened for the annual Spokane River Forum. The redband trout — the river’s canary in the mineshaft — took stage at Centerplace in Spokane Valley for a couple hours among other presentations. The topics — a delicious assortment to a scientist — ranged from managing sewage overflows to setting fish consumption rates.
Fishing options are blooming all across the state, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca is spot-on for catching salmon. “The chinook fishing at Sekiu lit up like light bulbs on a Christmas tree, and we got our daily limit (one chinook per angler) easily,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association, who fished Monday and Tuesday.
I like to imagine myself with Dr. Seuss whenever I spend time in a Pacific coastal rain forest. What strange and marvelous worlds would that man conjure if he spent an hour among the plant colonies thriving on a nurse log or tree branch? Tree-lichen kingdoms and moss-bearded giants would surely find their way into his imagination (and mine) when I stroll with him. It’s not difficult to play the game because temperate rain forests are so rich with unusual nooks and crannies, and chock full of amazing little critters.
Some local year-round lakes are blossoming early for spring trout fishing. “We’ve already stocked fish in three lakes, and have a plan to stock about 97,000 more trout this month,” said Justin Spinelli, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
A growing number of land managers have a burning desire to improve forest health and wildlife habitat. The topic of prescribed fires is hotter than ever following last summer’s major fires near Cle Elum and Wenatchee.
Balloon-tired fat bikes are breaking trail into new Inland Northwest terrain this winter, including nordic skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling routes. Schweitzer Mountain Resort, which has opened its nordic trails on a limited basis to snow biking, offers fat bike rentals and even staged its first race for over-snow cyclists in January. About eight riders participated.
State Fish and Wildlife released salmon forecasts last week, and there will be plenty on tap for anglers this summer and fall. Many will be blushing with delight as a strong return of 6.22 million pink salmon are expected to flood into Puget Sound this summer.
OLYMPIA — Anglers will be limited to one salmon per day in Marine Area 9, the portion of Puget Sound stretching from Seattle to Bremerton, starting Wednesday. State fishery managers approved the new limit — down from two fish per day — after they determined the number of chinook salmon kept or released exceeded pre-season projections.
The first indications we’re turning the corner on winter transpired this week in the Lower Columbia River. “There are lots of signs that spring is starting to happen, and we checked another spring chinook to add to the couple of others we saw (last week),” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
Two salmon fishing derbies this month saw record setting catches. The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby held Saturday through Monday had 351 hatchery chinook weighed in, which was one of the highest in the history of the event, and beat the record in 2011 of 248 fish.
Up to $5,000 in rewards is being offered for a tip that leads to the conviction of the culprits in the latest spree poaching case in Eastern Washington. Five white-tailed deer, including two bucks and three does, were discovered in the Grand Coulee area of Lincoln County on Saturday with only the backstrap and hindquarters removed. The deer were shot and left to rot just a few feet from each other, and appeared to be fresh kills.
WINTHROP — First dogs, then kids, now bicycles. The organization that operates a vast web of cross county ski trails in the Methow Valley has once again expanded use on some of its groomed trails. This time, to bicycles.
Steelhead fishing opened one hour before sunrise today on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers to anglers possessing a Columbia River salmon/steelhead endorsement, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The open waters include the Wenatchee River from the mouth to 400 feet below the Tumwater Dam and the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet below the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act has been reintroduced in Congress by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) , Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Rep. Suzan Del Bene (D-WA). The legislation, identical to the Senate bill that passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last session, would protect an additional 22,000 acres of wilderness adjoining the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, and would add 10 miles of the Pratt River and nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the ...
The hatchery steelhead river fishery is winding down on what turned out to be a modest winter season. “We’re at the end of the hatchery steelhead season, and this recent rain should move the last of them higher up the rivers,” said Kent Alger at Three Rivers Marine and Tackle in Woodinville.
Despite this week’s warm spell, there’s still time to get back on local lakes before ice fishing season is over. Check ice conditions before heading out, but limits are still being caught and the ice is still sound at a number of lakes around North Central Washington.
Procrastinators lose in the quest to bunk in a Forest Service cabin along the St. Joe River, float a prized Idaho wilderness river or backpack through certain prized wilderness areas. This is the season for thinking ahead to summer adventures that require a special permit or reservations.
Low and clear water conditions on rivers left steelhead fishing as stagnant as the foggy weather. That could change if rainfall this week draws more fresh fish upstream as the winter season winds down. The season closes on many rivers after Jan. 31.
“It’s the best Christmas present we could have given her,” my wife, Meredith, said after finishing a phone call with her mother. One 40-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seeds and another bag of chicken scratch have brightened every day in the life my mother-in-law, Grace. Santa delivered each in a mouse-proof, waterproof plastic bin and free onsite “setup” assistance.