Kalama and Klickitat Rivers Producing Salmon
John Kruse, October 23, 2020
Between fall hunting, fishing, bighorn sheep and news from our state parks there’s a lot to cover this week:
HUNTING: There were no official deer check stations set up last weekend for the modern firearm opening of deer season in Northeast Washington due to Covid-19 concerns but checking with several Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officers, Spokesperson Staci Lehman was able to relay hunting was slow in Pend Oreille County where one officer checked 29 hunters with no harvested deer. Other officers working in Stevens and Ferry Counties said Ferry County was the most productive and the majority of animals checked there were mule deer. Participation also appeared to be above normal in Ferry County during the opening weekend. Unfortunately, enforcement officers did cite several hunters for violations, the most common one, for having a loaded firearm in the vehicle.
On the duck hunting front participation was much greater than in recent years in the southern portion of the Desert State Wildlife Area encompassing the land around Potholes Reservoir as well as public land along Winchester and Frenchman Wasteways. That’s where I went hunting with my longtime friend Rusty Johnston and we had a fine morning, bagging nine ducks. Checking a total of 19 hunters at access points along the two wasteways I found the average harvest to be between three and four ducks each, a bit higher than previous opening weekends. The majority of the ducks taken were green-winged teal.
FISHING: When it comes to coho salmon fishing the two hottest rivers in Southern Washington are the Kalama and Klickitat Rivers where state creel checkers found a number of anglers with not only coho, but also a few Chinook salmon too. There are also reports of better coho fishing on the Icicle River below the fish hatchery near Leavenworth though photos posted on social media of these fish indicate their table fare might be better out of the smoker as opposed to the grill. These Icicle River salmon are getting pretty dark in color.
BIGHORN SHEEP: The good news is as of October 22nd Kyle Garrison, an Ungulate Specialist with WDFW, says so far it does not appear a pneumonia causing bacteria has spread from a domestic sheep to wild sheep in the Quilomene Herd, which calls the region between Vantage and Malaga home, though biologists continue to monitor this situation. Unfortunately, the Cleman Mountain Herd, has now been found to be infected. Located west of Yakima, a hunter found a dead bighorn lamb and several other lambs that were lethargic. WDFW biologists tested the dead lamb and found it tested positive for pneumonia.
The WDFW Regional Director for this area, Mike Livingston, stated “The fact that this bacteria has been found in the Cleman Mountain herd is significant, and we have limited options for how to address this positive test. We reviewed options such as lethal removal, testing, or increased monitoring. Because of the size of the herd and their range, we don’t believe that removing animals from the population is the best option at this time.” WDFW officials plan to collect samples from legally harvested animals from this herd to get an idea of how far the bacteria and pneumonia, which is often fatal, has spread.
CAMPING SEASON EXTENDED AT STATE PARKS: Last but not least, Washington State Parks is keeping 100 of their parks open this winter and camping is available at many of them as well. This is due in part to the huge increase of usage of our state parks during this Covid-19 pandemic. You can find out exactly what parks are open and find out about making reservations at https://parks.state.wa.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=650
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
A brace of drake green-winged teal taken opening day - J. Kruse