By Wayne Kruse Herald Writer
The Western Washington pheasant season ends with a bang next week as state Fish and Wildlife Department release-site managers plant extra pen-raised birds for the Thanksgiving holiday. Putting out the extra pheasants has become a tradition with many state wildlife area managers, including those from this area, but it often depends on having birds available and, equally as important, having volunteers on hand to assist with the plants.
Both factors are in good shape this season, according to Skagit Wildlife Area manager Belinda Schuster and Snoqualmie Wildlife Area manager Brian Boehm. Schuster handles the Bow Hill release site north of Burlington and the Leque Island (Smith Farm) site west of Stanwood, while Boehm covers the three Snoqualmie Valley sites — Cherry Valley, Crescent Lake and Stillwater, plus the Ebey Island site, mostly south of the Highway 2 trestle.
Schuster will be planting both Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving Day, and will put out about 60 extra birds Wednesday at Leque Island, and 30 extra at Bow Hill. Boehm prefers not to announce numbers, but says he will have extra pheasants and will be planting at least Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at all sites. Pheasants are normally planted for hunting the next day.
Remember that hunter orange and non-toxic shot are required on the wildlife areas.
For maps and directions to the release sites, go online to www.wdfw.wa.gov, then in the search window — upper right corner of the home page — type “western washington pheasant release sites.” Click on “Western Washington Pheasant Release Program,” then click on the small state map in the enclosure window, right side. Scroll down to “Region 4,” and on down to Skagit County, Bow Hill, and Smith Farm/Leque Island. Then down to Snohomish County, Snoqualmie Wildlife Area, Crescent Lake Unit, Cherry Valley Unit, Stillwater Unit, and Ebey Island Unit.
Check the current state hunting regulations pamphlet, available at all license outlets, for legal shooting days, limits and other rules.
The phone number at the WDFW Region 4 Mill Creek office is 425-775-1311.
The last of the three special fall trout plants will be made, or will have been made, sometime between Nov. 17 and 26, in four area lakes. Lake Tye, on the west side of Monroe, was scheduled for 2,000 fish (making a total of 10,000 for the three plants, Oct. 13 through Nov. 26); North and South Gissberg Ponds, 1,250 fish (3,750 total), and 7,500 (28.500 total) in Cranberry, on the north end of Whidbey Island. Remember that North Gissberg Pond is restricted to juveniles only.
All four lakes have a bonus limit of 10 trout, and they’re running 10 to 12 inches, with a few larger.
Videos on basic and cold weather trout fishing techniques can be found at the Fish and Wildlife Department’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/thewdfw.
Last Saturday’s Puget Sound Anglers, Sno-King Chapter, members and guests Blackmouth Derby hit the water under ideal weather conditions and with a great morning high tide, according to spokesman Jim Fahey. Participants watched a pod of orcas move from Kingston past Point No Point — incredible morning entertainment — then got down to serious fishing and found some good winter blackmouth action. Fahey said 53 anglers weighed 19 hatchery chinook, which ain’t half shabby.
Top dog was Kenneth Johnson, at 10.78 pounds (cleaned weight); second, Tim Stumpf at 10.03 pounds, and third, Lance Husby at 8.07 pounds. The top eight fish were all 6 pounds or better, cleaned weight, and were taken at scattered locations in marine areas 9 and 8-2.
Good on-the-water photos on my blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing. Information on the Sno-King Chapter at www.psasnoking.com.
Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood said Possession Bar so far this winter has been about as good as he’s seen in quite a while and, combined with Double Bluff, Scatchet Head and Point No Point, the local blackmouth season on the whole has been “very decent.”
State checks at the Port of Everett ramp on Friday showed 30 anglers with 10 chinook, and at the Camano State Park ramp it was seven anglers with four fish. On Saturday, some 31 anglers at the Hoodsport Hatchery on Hood Canal had 24 chums.
State biologist and local crab manager Don Velasquez at WDFW’s Mill Creek office, said the winter recreational crab season is going very well so far.
“We aren’t receiving any particular complaints, which is a pretty good indicator,” he said.
Commercial crabbing is closed for now and the tribes are off the water, at least until catch data is available and in-season quota adjustments can be considered.
Velasquez says his off-the-cuff feeling is that there’s an abundance of crab in local waters this winter which, if it proves out, could mean more commercial openings. To recreationists, Velasquez says, “I wouldn’t count too much on being the only ones out there the rest of the winter.”
He says the north half of Saratoga Passage has looked pretty good so far for recreationists; the Everett area less so.
Columbia River system
Boat anglers on the Cowlitz averaged one adult coho per rod over the weekend, and bank anglers averaged just over two-thirds of a fish per rod, according to WDFW biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver. Fish are still being taken in the lower river, Hymer said, but the barrier dam area has been best. Sea-run cutthroat and a few early winter steelhead are being caught around the trout hatchery, even though the river has been dirty below the Toutle.
Hymer said the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery adult coho return (79,174 to date) is the largest since at least 1969.
State biologist Paul Hoffarth on the Columbia said the last two weeks has seen a substantial increase in the steelhead catch around the Ringold hatchery above the Tri-Cities, after having been very slow in October. Checks last week showed 139 anglers with 68 steelhead caught and 62 hatchery fish kept. Hoffarth said fishermen averaged a steelhead for every 3.3 hours of fishing.
Duck stamp raise
According to Ducks Unlimited spokesman Matt Coffey, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Duck Stamp Act of 2014 on Monday and, if approved by the Senate, the Act would increase the cost of the federal duck stamp from $15 to $25. The last time the price of the stamp was increased was in 1991.
“Ducks Unlimited strongly supports this effort to increase the conservation impact of the federal duck stamp,” DU’s CEO Dale Hall was quoted as saying. “The additional duck stamp funding provided by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists will not only conserve critical waterfowl habitat, but will also help ensure the future of our waterfowling traditions.”
The venerable Boone and Crockett Club has published a cookbook for the first time since its founding by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, “Wild Gourmet: Naturally Healthy Game, Fish and Fowl Recipes for Everyday Chefs.” And Julie Tripp, B&C publications director said the outfit is not standing on its lengthy history with this publication.
“Many hunters’ favorite dishes are tried, true and long established, so any outfit entering the cookbook market in 2014 better deliver something especially usefu, new and/or tantalizing,” Tripp said
At 272 pages and featuring recipes from Emeril Lagasse, Scott Leysath, Hank Shaw and many others, the book is a rich stock of proven, diverse cooking expertise.
Colorfully illustrated, this high-quality hardcover is $34.95, but B&C Club members receive a discount if purchased directly from the club. Visit www.boone-crockett.org or call 888-840-4868.
For more outdoor news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.