Saturday, January 14, 2012

38% Fewer Sturgeon for Retention

I'm not a Sturgeon guy, but I think it's good that the powers that be are taking steps to increase the chance there will be some around if I decide to give it a shot. In a news post yesterday ODFW and WDFW announced that retention of white sturgeon for the lower Columbia system will be reduced by 38%.  This is the third year in a row they have reduced the number and reflects a 16% harvest goal of fish sized 38 to 54 inches.

The reduction has been spurred by declines in legal size sturgeon available in the system. ODFW reports that here are 50% fewer of these size fish available now than there were in 2007. Also, last years harvest target of 22.6% wasn't reached in 2011 falling short by almost 1,200 fish.

The new harvest target will be reduced by 6,040 fish to 9,600. With the shortfall from last year that is an actual reduction of 4,800 fish. ODFW Director Elicker said, "For 2012, the plan is to maintain the season and catch-allocation structure that has been in place for several years, but with shorter fishing periods.The 9,600 available fish will be divided as follows: 4,160 for the estuary, 2,080 above Wauna, and between 1,768 and 2,022 for the Willamette. The range on the Willamette was agreed to because the directors believe some flexibility might be required to meet ODFW's goal of four retention days on the Willamette.

The post also noted that the meeting to set Sturgeon and Spring Chinook seasons for the the lower Columbia will be on the 29th in Portland.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Water Less Fished

I started fishing for two major reasons. Chiefly was so that Littlefisher and I could get out of the Domestic Goddess's hair. You see back in '10, when this all started out, Littlefisher and I were around the homestead a lot. I was growing a tech consulting business, and the DG was starting to homeschool Littlefisher. The nature of the service I provide allowed me to work from home alot. With Homeschool in full swing and me home a good part of everyday we were all struggling for "off" time. As a solution DG got Littlefisher and me basic spinning gear setups, a fishing license, and a season pass for Hagg Lake. Secondly, I really enjoy being out in the forests and exploring the world. I grew up in a dry stretch of eastern Oregon. Trees were something that grew near the rivers, around farm houses, and in town. Everything else is covered in fields, what can't be farmed is carpeted with sage brush. Water was confined to reservoirs, irrigation ditches, and sparse rivers. Some people really like the desert hills and dry canyons where I grew up. I can understand their attraction, but tall trees, mountains, and a little creek in every draw is where it's at for me. Littlefisher thankfully shares my enthusiasm for searching out "new dirt" and the freedom of sparsely tread places.

Now I arrive at the point, my quest for "Water Less Fished". In the beginning I shunned other anglers from embarrassment. I had fished in boy scouts and enjoyed it, but stopped after moving on from scouting. In those early fishing expeditions of '10 I was a complete noob again. My time was divided between the unholy knots that appeared on my reel, untangling my gear from various bank obstacles, doing the same for Littlefisher, and precious little time actually fishing. Wild hail mary casts propelled my line nearly to a point I could reach by just chucking the whole mess; rod, reel, and line into the lake. With research and practice my form improved. At the close of the '10 season I also upgraded our gear as Littlefisher and I pushed past our starter kit.

Last season I was comfortable in the company of others. However, I discovered I didn't really care for the types of fishing done in close company with one exception. To me working a section of bank with several other fellows means one of three things. Bait fishing off the bottom, bobber and jig/bait fishing from the top, or working the same water over and over with lures. The first two involve a lot of sitting on a rock/chair/bucket waiting for fish. They are a good way to kill an afternoon with friends and beer unless the fish are REALLY biting. The third seems like gathering up little pebbles of futility until the pile obstructs your view of the fun. The one exception is fishing from a boat. In my mind anything involving a boat is worthy of doing and having others along only makes it better.

Over the last season Littlefisher and I discovered a number of places that we had mostly to ourselves. In all the fishing we did I can count on one hand the number of times anyone was within sight. I thought it would make a great feature for the blog to put up information about these places. A locale review of sorts, for out of the way fishing.

When I began this post a few days ago I was all gung ho. Yesterday my ardor faded somewhat. A thread on a forum I follow got a bit heated when the original poster mentioned the stream where he found success. Some criticized the poster for revealing the stream, fearing his report would bring a horde of the uncouth to ravage the area. I've pondered both points of view and I have decided to proceed. Look for my first "WLF" article in the next few days. Hopefully the kind of people attracted to the places I am will share or surpass my respect for these places. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No Ink

Saturday concluded my first year fishing for salmon and steel in the fine rivers here in NW Oregon and my tags have nothing to show for it. I started working at a new job last Jan and wasn't able to chase the steel. When April rolled around I was busy getting Littlefisher hooked on trout at Hagg Lake and Dorman Pond instead of chasing springers. The end of May through October was spent with Littlefisher and I chasing cutties on Gales Creek, the Wilson, and Nehalem. For the remainder of the year the rain and my work schedule could not sync up. We only had two really good rains for the fall season, just before Thanksgiving and right after Christmas. Both blew out the rivers and left me with only two decent opportunities in November and December. I fished both those days hard but so did everyone else.

Littlefisher stalking the cutties.
Thankfully I'm not basing the success of the year on filling in little boxes on my tag. Littlefisher thought catching planter trout at the lake was alright. She was duly excited for her first one, but she was still more interested in catching frogs, bugs, and snakes during our lake outings. She turned the corner when the rivers opened for trout. On our first outing she was introduced to the acrobatic cutties on the Wilson. It was a great day and we both played at least a dozen fish. On the way home I asked her if she wanted to go back to the lake and she replied, "No way dad, the river fish are so much better!". We spent the rest of the summer on the rivers chasing fish. Nearly every weekend had at least one day where we were in the open air exploring the rivers. We were warmed by the sun, cooled by the waters, and soaked in the beauty of uncultivated places.

There was also success with actually catching fish. On our summer trout outings I averaged about seven fish played fish per trip. Of those I kept four, three were hooked in ways that would have killed them. One just flat out looked to tasty to let go. Late in the spring run I managed a clipped chinook jack that didn't need to be tagged. I landed a beautiful native coho hen in late October but the quota had already been hit for the Wilson so off she went. Through November and December I released a few boot black nooks.

For this year Littlefisher and I both have tags. With all the experience from last year, I look forward to us both enjoying our time together on the water. We might even get some ink!