2015 Sturgeon Season Maybe The Best Ever.

2015 Sturgeon Season Maybe The Best Ever.

Several major changes the last two years have changed the fishery in a positive way:

The lower Columbia and Willamette rivers have been primarily catch and release with very few sturgeon kept. That’s an extra 20,000 keeper-sized fish available. The primary sturgeon spawning grounds have been closed to fishing, areas that were normally heavily fished, reducing the total pressure especially for over-sized sturgeon. Few sturgeon congregate below Bonneville Dam, a historically strong fishery. The sea lions feasting at Bonneville have scattered throughout the system. This winter and spring on the Willamette river, we have caught larger fish than ever. 20 – 40 fish a day have been norm with many over 50 lbs.

Last June and July we followed the sturgeon to Astoria on the lower Columbia. This area is mostly saltwater, which the smaller “shakers” don’t like. Slow days average 20 fish and fast action fishing was 50 sturgeon. Most days several sturgeon between 100 and 300 pounds were caught. Much of the summer Astoria fishery is done is shallow, sandy flats where they feed aggressively. These are the wildest sturgeon we have caught, regularly running 50 – 100 yards, jumping completely out of the water like tarpon.

This is the best catch and release fishery on the planet! We cannot kill the fish but the memories will last forever.

Nehalem’s Karen Kuntz recognized with Riley Freeman Award for wildlife conservation

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Nehalem’s Karen Kuntz recognized with Riley Freeman Award for wildlife conservation

The riparian buffers on Kuntz’s property along Tomlinson Creek keep water temperatures cooler and provide a refuge for juvenile salmonids in the summer.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
SALEM, Ore.—ODFW recognized Nehalem’s Karen Kuntz and her Foley Peak Angus cattle operation with the Riley Freeman award during the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Oregon Cattlewomen’s Convention and Tradeshow earlier this month in Bend.
Foley Peak Angus raises high quality, grass-fed beef on a 304-acre property in the Nehalem River watershed. The ranch uses an active grazing rotation plan, storm water runoff control, buffer strips along waterways and other efforts as part of a Resource Management System developed with the help of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Tillamook Soil and Conservation District.
Rotational grazing throughout the property has been very effective at maintaining good field conditions and reducing sediment and manure runoff into Tomlinson Creek, which is a tributary of Foley Creek and the Nehalem River. Both sides of the creek have full vegetation, providing good canopy and habitat for wildlife and keeping water temperatures cooler for fish.
Native tree plantings of conifers and diverse shrubs have also improved wildlife habitat and provide escape cover, thermal protection and rearing and roost areas for neo-tropical birds. Kuntz’s efforts have paid off for local native wildlife including Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, raptors, mustelids, and beavers which benefit from the diverse habitat the ranch provides.
Juvenile salmonids also benefit from Kuntz’s stewardship. As they seek cooler water during the summer, the riparian buffers along Tomlinson Creek provide refuge from other areas of Foley Creek and the Lower Nehalem River with higher temperatures.  
“The Kuntz family are committed stewards of their land and have been a pleasure to work with,” said Chris Knutsen, North Coast Watershed District Manager. “Foley Peak Angus is a great example of working agricultural land that continues to provide important habitat for Oregon’s fish and wildlife species.”
The Riley Freeman award is named after a past Chairman of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Wildlife Committee. Freeman saw the need for greater coordination and cooperation between private landowners and state and federal natural resources agencies. While he defended an individual’s property rights, Freeman also advocated for partnerships between wildlife managers, landowners, and wildlife

Read more at ODFW

Dec. 12 meeting to discuss new Coos Mtn TMA

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Dec. 12 meeting to discuss new Coos Mtn TMA

Monday, December 11, 2017
CENTRAL POINT, Ore.—The Southwest Region Council of the Access and Habitat program will host a second public meeting Dec. 12 at noon to discuss a possible new Travel Management Area to be known as the Coos Mountain TMA within the Tioga Wildlife Management unit.
The meeting will be held at ODFW’s Central Point office, 1495 East Gregory Road. Attend in person or call 1-877-336-1831 and enter participant code 804246. 
Commercial timberland ownership in the area has shifted in recent years. The new TMA would provide “Welcome to Hunt” access on 63,000 acres so that hunters would have access to more private and public land in the area. TMAs typically involve some motor vehicle restrictions and help regulate access so private landowners are more willing to open their property to hunters.
The A&H program funds projects that provide hunter access and/or improve wildlife habitat on private land in Oregon. It’s funded by a $4 surcharge on hunting licenses and big game auction and raffle tag sales.
For more information, please contact Jade Keehn, ODFW’s A&H SW Regional Coordinator at jade.e.keehn@state.or.us, (541) 826-8774 x232.
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Contact:
Jade Keehn, ODFW’s A&H SW Regional Coordinator, jade.e.keehn@state.or.us, (541) 826-8774 x232

Read more at ODFW

Commission sets groundfish seasons, delays Wolf Plan adoption

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Commission sets groundfish seasons, delays Wolf Plan adoption

Friday, December 8, 2017

The bamboo fly rod of Vic Atiyeh

SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Wildlife Commission set regulations for recreational and commercial groundfish seasons today at their meeting in Salem.
The state’s regulations are based on federal quotas. After hearing public testimony, the Commission adopted a five fish bag limit (reduced from seven this year), in hopes of providing a year-round fishery in 2018. (The 2017 bag limit design was higher at seven fish, which was not sufficient to provide for year-round fishing, prompting an early closure that disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers.) The Commission also approved an offshore longleader fishery with a 10-fish bag limit from January-March and October-December (though an April-September season may be added if federal regulations are adopted). Longleader gear can better target offshore rockfish species and lessen pressure on nearshore black rockfish. Further in-season adjustments to groundfish seasons could happen if needed to keep under allowed harvest levels and ODFW is committed to monitoring and reporting effort and catch at more frequent intervals. The cabezon fishery will remain the same (open July 1-Dec. 31 with bag limit of one cabezon). For more details on the 2018 recreational season visit https://myodfw.com/sport-groundfish-seasons-0
ODFW staff presented a working copy of the Draft Updated Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, showing the edits staff have made to the Plan since April 2017 as a result of comments from stakeholders, the public and commissioners. A panel of representatives from Wolf Program stakeholder groups also testified about the latest Plan. The Commission decided more time was needed to work on the Plan and opted to delay adoption, so they will not be considering it at their next meeting on Jan. 19, 2018 in Salem. A new meeting date will be announced once it’s decided.
In other business, the Commission:

Denied a petition to amend freshwater angling regulations for naturally produced spring Chinook salmon in the Rogue River.
Approved a five-year culvert repair agreement between ODOT and ODFW that will allow ODOT to make critical repairs to aging culverts in a cost-effective manner without having to meet full fish passage criteria. As part of the agreement, ODOT will improve fish passage at each site and fund high priority fish passage restoration projects off the state highway

Read more at ODFW

Oregon continues delay of commercial Dungeness crab season coastwide

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Oregon continues delay of commercial Dungeness crab season coastwide

Thursday, December 7, 2017
NEWPORT, Ore. – The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed until at least Dec. 31 along the entire Oregon coast as testing shows crabs are still too low in meat yield in some areas of the coast. 
The ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon is targeted to open Dec. 1, but can be delayed to ensure a high-quality product to consumers and to avoid wastage of the resource. Crab quality testing in late November and early December showed that half of the areas still did not meet the criteria for an opening. The delayed opening will allow for crabs to fill with more meat. 
Testing will continue to determine if the season should open Dec. 31, be further delayed, or be split into two areas with different opening dates. In conjunction with the delayed ocean commercial season, commercial harvest of Dungeness crab in Oregon bays is now closed for the remainder of the year.
The delay in the ocean commercial season at this time is not directly related to the recent recreational crabbing closures that have affected some areas of the coast (currently, south of the north jetty of the Coquille River to California). These closures are due to elevated levels of the biotoxin domoic acid detected in crab. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) continues to monitor domoic acid levels in crab, and recreational and commercial crabbing in affected areas will remain closed or harvest restrictions will be put in place until test results indicate that crab harvested from them are safe to consume.
Despite the commercial delay and some recreational closures, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers. For more information on ODA health closures, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.
Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery. Last year’s season opening was also delayed but still brought in the record high ex-vessel value of $62.7 million, with 20.4 million pounds landed (about 22 percent above the 10-year average).
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Contact:
Troy Buell (541) 867‐0300 ext. 225

Read more at ODFW

Recreational crab harvesting reopens on a portion of Oregon coast

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Recreational crab harvesting reopens on a portion of Oregon coast

Oregon Department of Agriculture map showing where
recreational crab harvesting is now open in Oregon.

December 5, 2017
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce that recreational crabbing is now open from the north jetty of the Coquille River to the Columbia River.
An area from Tahkenitch Creek (north of Winchester Bay) to Cape Foulweather (north of Newport) was previously closed due to elevated domoic acid levels. Recent crab samples taken from the area indicate these levels have dropped and remain below the alert level.
This reopening of the recreational season applies to crab harvested in the ocean and in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crab harvesting remains closed along the southern Oregon coast from the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary) to the California border.
Below is a guide for what is currently open and closed for both recreational and commercial crab fishermen. Before crabbing, please confirm the status of ODFW/ODA harvest areas relative to concerns about elevated biotoxins at the website below.
Recreational crabbing – Currently open in the ocean and in all bays and estuaries that are not under the health advisory.
Commercial ocean crabbing – Delayed in all areas until at least December 16.
Commercial bay crabbing – Commercial bay crabbing remains closed in all areas due to the delay in the ocean commercial Dungeness crab fishery.
Despite the commercial closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

It is always recommended to eviscerate the crab and discard the “butter” (viscera or guts) prior to cooking. When whole crab are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. It is recommended to discard the cooking liquid, and do not use it in other dishes, such as sauces, broths, soups, stews, stocks, roux, dressings, etc. The consumption of crab viscera is not recommended.
For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.
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Contact:
Alex Manderson, ODA, (503) 842-2607
Mitch Vance, ODFW, (541) 867-0300

Read more at ODFW

Start planning your 2018 outdoor season: Fishing and hunting licenses make great gifts

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Start planning your 2018 outdoor season: Fishing and hunting licenses make great gifts

Friday, Dec. 1, 2017
SALEM, Ore.—The new 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing and 2018 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations  should now be available at outdoor stores and ODFW offices, or find them online at www.eregulations.com or through our new recreation website MyODFW.com.
As of today (Dec. 1, 2017), 2018 licenses and tags are also on sale at license sales agents, most ODFW offices, and online.
Fishing and hunting licenses make great gifts, especially for kids. Youth age 12-17 can fish (including. Columbia River Endorsement), hunt, crab and clam all year for $10 with the Youth License, or gift the Sports Pac ($55) and add all major hunting and fishing tags/validations including deer, elk, turkey, bear, cougar,  and combined angling tag. ODFW’s special big game hunt raffle tickets also make great stocking stuffers ($4.50-$11.50 for chance to win a special deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn or Rocky Mountain goat tag).
To give a license, tag or other document as a gift, you need the hunter or angler’s full name and date of birth (day, month, year). If the person has had a license before, make sure you have their ODFW hunter/angler ID number which is found at the top of their license and stays the same every year. If you are purchasing for someone who has never had a license, you will need to provide their social security number in compliance with Federal and State Laws. 
What’s New for 2018
Big Game Hunting: New in the 2018 regulations, significant changes are in yellow highlighted text not red text, consistent with fishing regulations. The only major regulatory changes for hunters are the extension of the age limit for the Mentored Youth Hunt Program to include 14 and 15 year-olds (goes into effect January 1, 2018), and a removal of the cap on non-resident fall bear tags.
Hunters will notice some changes in the regulations as staff have been working to make the document easier to follow and understand. New this year, each species follows the same standard format and organization; there are more maps and tables and less text; and all regulations for Youth, Veterans and Landowners are in one place on new pages.
The changes are part of a multi-year effort to simplify Oregon’s Big Game

Read more at ODFW

Commission meets Dec. 8 in Salem

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Commission meets Dec. 8 in Salem

Dec. 1, 2017
SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Wildlife will meet Friday, Dec. 8 in Salem at ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE. The meeting starts at 8 a.m. and follows this agenda, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/17/12_dec/index.asp
The meeting will be livestreamed on ODFW’s Periscope and Twitter accounts.
During the Director’s report at the beginning of the meeting, ODFW staff will present a working copy of the Draft Updated Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. This copy shows the edits staff have made to the Plan since April 2017 as a result of comments from stakeholders, the public and Commissioners.
A panel of representatives from Wolf Program stakeholder groups has also been invited to testify at the meeting, but no other public testimony about wolves will be taken. After the Dec. 8 meeting, ODFW staff plans to complete any additional edits and present the Plan for final adoption and rule-making at the Jan. 19, 2018 Commission meeting in Salem.
The Commission will set 2018 regulations for nearshore recreational and commercial groundfish fisheries. These are based on federal regulations. Black rockfish are the primary driver of Oregon’s marine fish bag limits in 2018 and next year’s allowed harvest level will decrease slightly from 2017.
The 2017 recreational groundfish bag limit design did not provide year-round fishing, prompting an early closure due to quota attainment that disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers. To try to avoid a similar disruption in 2018, ODFW staff have been meeting with stakeholders to determine the best management approach to provide sustainable harvest opportunities and maximize chances for a year-round season.
Based on feedback from stakeholders, staff are proposing seasonal bag limit changes while still allowing for a year-round fishery. Also under consideration are alternatives to shorten the season, in order to maintain a larger bag limit. The proposal recommended by ODFW staff calls for a daily bag limit of four marine fish from April-September (the busiest part of the season) and six marine fish from October-March, down from a year-round bag limit of seven fish in 2017. 
The cabezon fishery will remain the same (open July 1-Dec. 31 or quota attainment, with a sub-bag limit of one). ODFW staff are also recommending to continue offering the offshore long-leader bag limit of ten fish. For more details including other options

Read more at ODFW

Hunters bring banned elk parts into Rogue Valley from CWD-positive states

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Hunters bring banned elk parts into Rogue Valley from CWD-positive states

Friday, December 1, 2017
CENTRAL POINT, Ore – Two local hunters recently brought prohibited elk parts from Colorado and Wyoming into the Rogue Valley. The elk were harvested in these states which have some deer, elk and moose infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal neurological disease.
Oregon is still a CWD-free state. It has never been detected in captive or free-ranging deer, elk, or moose in Oregon.
However, the risk of non-reversible disease transmission to wild ungulates is high because even one infected animal can affect the future of all susceptible species in the state. By bringing potentially CWD-infected elk parts containing central nervous system tissue into Oregon, these hunters jeopardized the health and population of Oregon’s deer, elk, and moose.
Oregon State Police cited the hunters. This follows a similar case earlier in November where a Madras man also brought banned parts of a CWD-positive deer harvested in Montana to Oregon. ODFW collected the banned parts and incinerated them which is one of the only ways to destroy the pathogen.
Duane Dungannon, State Coordinator for the Oregon Hunters Association says hunters play a critical role in keeping CWD out of Oregon.
“We need hunters who go out of state to be vigilant and not bring prohibited ungulate parts back to Oregon. CWD represents perhaps the greatest threat to our big game because it has the potential to devastate our ungulate populations,” Dungannon said.
OHA has been seriously concerned about preventing the spread of this disease to wild game herds. The group has advocated for tight regulations on game ranching and has consistently funded disease research and prevention across the state.
People hunting in states with CWD who harvest a deer, elk or moose may only bring back parts without spinal cord or brain tissue (e.g. no spinal column and only antlers on a clean skullcap). See page 29 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations under “Parts Ban” for more information.
CWD is caused by a protein prion that damages the brain of infected animals, causing progressive neurological disease and loss of body condition. It’s untreatable and always fatal. It spreads through none-to-nose contact between infected animals and through the animal’s bodily fluids. The priors that cause CWD can also last a long

Read more at ODFW

ODFW Salmon and Trout Advisory Committee to meet in Salem on Dec. 7

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ODFW Salmon and Trout Advisory Committee to meet in Salem on Dec. 7

November 28, 2017
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) Advisory Committee will meet Thursday, Dec. 7 beginning at 8 a.m. in the Commission Room at the ODFW Headquarters Office, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive in Salem.
The meeting is open to the public and the agenda includes STEP program planning, STEP program updates, and review of mini-grant applications.
The Oregon Legislature created Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program in 1981 to provide a way for volunteers to participate in the restoration of native stocks of salmon, steelhead and trout. The STEP Advisory Committee makes recommendations to ODFW and the Fish and Wildlife Commission on issues regarding its programs. The committee’s 13 members are appointed by the Governor and represent all areas of Oregon.
Reasonable accommodations will be provided as needed for individuals requesting assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreters or large-print materials. Individuals needing these types of accommodations may call the Information and Education Division at (800) 720-6339 or (503) 947-6002 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
For more information on the Salmon Trout Enhancement Program visit the ODFW Web site at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/STEP/ or call program staff at (503) 947-6211.
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Contact:
Kevin Herkamp (503) 947-6232

Read more at ODFW

Crab harvesting reopens on a portion of Oregon coast

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Crab harvesting reopens on a portion of Oregon coast

November 22, 2017

Click map to enlarge

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce the reopening of recreational and commercial bay crabbing from the north jetty of the Coquille River to the north jetty of Coos Bay. The reopening includes crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Crab samples taken from the area indicate levels of domoic acid have dropped and remain below the alert level.
The recreational crabbing season in the ocean closed coast-wide on Oct. 16.
Crab harvesting remains closed from the California border to the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary), and from Tahkenitch Creek (north of Winchester Bay) to Cape Foulweather (north of Newport). Crabbing north of Cape Foulweather to the Columbia River remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.
Today’s test results and health advisory come at a complicated time of year for Oregon’s crab fisheries. By rule, Dec. 1 is Oregon’s earliest annual start for ocean crabbing, for both commercial and recreational fisheries. However, this year, due to low crab meat yield and elevated levels of biotoxins in some areas, much of Oregon’s ocean area remains closed to crabbing after Dec. 1. Additional testing for meat yield and biotoxin levels will continue at least through the end of December.
For both recreational and commercial crab fishermen, below is a simple guide for what is currently open and closed. Before you go crabbing, please confirm the status of ODFW/ODA harvest areas relative to concerns about elevated biotoxins at the website below.

Recreational crabbing – Currently open in all bays and estuaries that are not under the health advisory; opens after Dec. 1 in ocean areas where biotoxins are below the alert level.
Commercial ocean crabbing – Delayed in all areas until at least December 16.
Commercial bay crabbing – Commercial bay crabbing is re-opened in Coos Bay on Monday, Nov. 27; commercial bay crabbing remains closed from the California border to the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary), and from Tahkenitch Creek to Cape Foulweather. Commercial bay crabbing remains open at this time in bays and estuaries, and on beaches,

Read more at ODFW