The kids and seniors have had their early shots at pen-raised pheasants. Now it’s everyone else’s turn as the Western Washington general season opens Saturday morning. Belinda Schuster, new manager of the Skagit/Snoqualmie Wildlife Areas for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the number of available birds will be about the same as last year.
Pheasant will be released at all six of the formal release sites on the same schedule — for hunting Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The six sites include Stillwater, Crescent Lake and Cherry Valley on the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area, and Ebey Island, Smith Farm (Leque Island) and the Samish Unit on the Skagit Wildlife Area.
Schuster said there had been concern that dike and wetland projects would interfere with hunting activity on Leque Island, near Stanwood, but those fears proved unfounded. For now at least, the Smith Farm release site is operating as usual, although no crops have been planted.
The Ebey Island site is south of the Highway 2 trestle and on the east side of the island. It offers two parking areas, one on Homeacres Road and the other where the road paralleling the trestle ends, near Ebey Slough.
“We plant birds only east of Deadwater Slough on the Ebey site,” Schuster said.
Work not seriously damaged
A Corps of Engineers project to improve fish passage on the Stillaguamish River was delayed recently as the first fall rains raised river levels and overtopped a temporary cofferdam protecting the work. Project manager David Cook said the cofferdam was designed to accommodate just such a situation, and that the site was being cleaned up this week.
“We hope to finish the project by mid-October,” Cook said. “The high water cost us about a week.”
The work is being done on the low diversion dam at the head of Cook Slough, just downstream from the I-5 bridge. A “fish fence” at the bottom end of the slough, designed to shunt migrating salmon into an adjacent channel, also washed out and is being replaced.
Temporary fishing regulations closing Cook Slough will remain in force until the project is finished.
Everett Coho Derby
The total number of silvers weighed at last weekend’s Everett Coho Derby doubled that of the 2010 event and highlighted a major success for the co-sponsors, the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club.
“We weighed 673 fish for the 1,700 tickets sold, and with a break in the weather we would have totaled over 1,000 fish, I think,” derby coordinator Mark Spada said. “Some 497 weighed in on Saturday, when the weather was great, but only 176 in Sunday’s slop, when a lot of guys didn’t even try to get out.”
In retrospect, two factors stood out: the unusually high number of fish entered from area rivers (even the Skagit), and the nice but not really big coho on the money list.
Of the top 30 fish entered in the adult division, nine came out of the Snohomish, one from the Skagit and 20 from saltwater. Of the top five places in the youth division, three fish came from the Snohomish, one from the Stillaguamish and one from Marine Area 9.
“The rivers were much more productive than usual,” Spada said, “and with this rain clearing out the leftover pinks, it looks really good for coho in freshwater this weekend.”
Spada said there was a really hot bite on the Snohomish early Saturday morning and that those tossing Dick Nite spoons took a large number of bright coho. Actually, he said, Dick Nites were about the only lure listed by those weighing winning fish.
First place and $3,000 went to Mike Fure for a 16.55-pounder caught in Area 8-2 on a green flasher/green squid combo. Second and $2,000 went to Terry Metzger, for a 15.7-pound coho from Area 9, on a flasher/squid combo; third and $1,500 to Mike Brower for a 15.6-pounder from Area 10, on a flasher/squid; fourth and fifth, respectively, to Adam Davis and Peter Kline for 15-plus-pounders from the Snohomish on Dick Nite spoons; and sixth to Nelson Goodsell for an Area 8-2 fish caught on a Silver Horde spoon.
It often takes a coho in the 17- to 18-pound range to win this derby.
In the kids’ division, first place and $100 went to Hunter Steltz for a silver of 13.02 pounds from the Snohomish; second and $75 to Braydon Pittwood, at 11.98 pounds from the Snohomish; and third and $50 to Kathryn Holland at 10.49 pounds, also from the Snohomish.
The big $60,000, 22-foot River Hawk boat/motor/trailer package drawing, sponsored by the National Marine Trade Association’s Northwest Salmon Derby Series, was won by Randy Aden of Hoodsport, whose winning ticket was purchased for the Hood Canal Salmon Derby in August.
NMTA’s director of fishing affairs, Tony Floor, said, “Randy Aden and his wife Kathy are perfect winners, as they have been fishing the derbies in friends’ boats.”
Winning the smaller boat/motor/trailer drawing dedicated specifically to this derby was Jennifer Brager, who was present with her husband and two children.
For more outdoor news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.