Northwest Sportsman Mag - February 2022

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Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource

Volume 14 • Issue 5 PUBLISHER James R. Baker

Your Complete Hunting, Boating, Fishing and Repair Destination Since 1948.


EDITOR Andy “Credit To Your Industry” Walgamott THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Dave Anderson, Jason Brooks, Richy Harrod, Scott Haugen, Jeff Holmes, MD Johnson, Randy King, Buzz Ramsey, Dave Workman, Mark Yuasa EDITORIAL FIELD SUPPORT Jason Brooks GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Paul Yarnold ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Jim Klark, Kelley Miller, Mike Smith DESIGNER Lesley-Anne Slisko-Cooper PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker OFFICE MANAGER Katie Aumann INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER Lois Sanborn WEBMASTER/DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DIGITAL ASSISTANT Jon Ekse ADVERTISING INQUIRIES


CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to, or to the mailing address below. ON THE COVER Darrel Smith holds a wild winter steelhead he caught last season on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula while fishing with Mike Zavadlov of Mike Z’s Guide Service. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) IN MEMORIAM Frank Moore, 98, Oregon fishing legend, North Umpqua protector, World War II soldier, husband of Jeanne. “Never stop dreaming, and never stop working to fulfill those dreams.” Rest in peace.


1-877-426-0933 14 Northwest Sportsman


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123 SEA-RUN CUTTHROAT: OVERLOOKED NEARSHORE FISHERY Saltwater trout prowl Puget Sound’s beaches, providing a good fishing opportunity at a slower time of the angling calendar, especially in the inland sea’s southern waters. Mark Yuasa checks in with state manager Larry Phillips and guide Keith Robbins for details on the wheres and hows of this overlooked fishery. 133 GETAWAYS: YOU’LL HAVE NO DISAPPOINTMENTS HERE Long Beach is well known for its razor clamming, thanks in no small part to a 28-mile-long strip of sand stretching from Cape Disappointment to Leadbetter Point, but Jeff Holmes also discovered it’s home to other great winter shellfishing opportunities – oysters in Willapa Bay and crabs in the Columbia estuary – making for a huge haul. Indeed, save some room for seconds as Jeff and crew take us on a culinary and family-friendly midwinter getaway.


Our 11th annual celebration of fall harvests features readers’ trophy bucks and bulls, first kills, family efforts and more, plus Jeff Holmes’ story of his Blue Mountains special permit elk and the amazing experience two bowhunters enjoyed while pursuing mule deer deep in the Cascades.


159 DIP THIS! ‘MODERATE TO STRONG’ SMELT RUN EXPECTED Who really knows whether the slender, oily fish that are also known as eulachon, as well as water conditions in the Columbia River will line up this winter, but the early signs are hopeful if you’re a Cowlitz River dipnetter. Our MD Johnson checked in with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s swami of smelt, Laura Heironimus, to see what this year’s return may hold.



Having grown up on an Eastern Oregon ranch, Richy Harrod wasn’t ready for the powerful emotions he felt with the first chukar he harvested after putting down his longtime partridge-chasing partner, Maizy the yellow Lab/golden retriever mix. Make sure you have some Kleenex handy. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to for details. NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 941 Powell Ave SW, Suite 103, Renton, WA 98057. Periodical Postage Paid at Seattle, WA and at additional mail offices. (USPS 025-251) POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Northwest Sportsman, 941 Powell Ave SW, Suite 120, Renton, WA 98057. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $49.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues may be ordered at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2022 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

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Add Methods To Your Steelhead Repertoire Having multiple fishing tactics in your steelheading tactics quiver will help up your odds of success when river conditions aren’t what you’re used to or winter-runs are just not being cooperative. Buzz shares three solid methods.


NEW COLUMN! Becoming A Hunter As a kid, Dave Anderson was driven to be a hunter, and his passion really exploded when a friend’s dad took him under his wing to hunt Midwest pheasants. That opened a path leading to the West, a guide and outfitter school, and many articles in these pages. In his new column geared to newcomers to the field, Anderson will describe all the steps to getting into hunting, as well as how to mentor them.


ON TARGET New For 2022: Rifles, Shotguns And More Dave Workman is the proverbial kid in the candy store come midwinter, thanks to the huge Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show. He shares some of 2022’s tastiest new rifles, shotguns, handguns, ammunition and handloading equipment.

103 CHEF IN THE WILD Last Chance At The Doe-K Corral Chef Randy has quite the range – and we’re not just talking about his deer hunting country and primary kitchen appliance. This issue he recalls the tough final hours of his youngest son’s antlerless deer season and cooks up a treatise on the rise of bacon in modern cooking – along with a recipe for bacon-wrapped venison loaf! 109 GUN DOG Training Dogs About Dekes “When it comes to retrieving ducks on water, educating your dog to not only negotiate decoys, but also jerk cords and anchor lines, is important,” advises Scott. He has a training tutorial. 155 NORTHWEST PURSUITS Options For Washington Winter-runs Washington’s winter steelhead lineup this season is perhaps more constrained than it has ever been, but Jason looks into the options still to be had on the west side of the Evergreen State and further south in Oregon. 18 Northwest Sportsman


“Just in case you didn’t get enough freezer fish during the Buoy 10 and Columbia River Chinook seasons, you should know there is still plenty of fall salmon action to be had on several Oregon Coast systems.” So writes Buzz as he details how to work Tillamook Bay and its rivers, as well as other systems on the Beaver State’s Pacific side.


25 THE EDITOR’S NOTE: Spring Black Bear Controversy


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Current and former Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission members and Department of Fish and Wildlife staffers during mid-January’s vote on spring black bear hunting petitions filed by sportsmen and hunting orgs. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)



pparently I’m just going to write Editor’s Notes about the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission anymore. Let’s see, November’s was about the new and curious draft conservation policy select members of the citizen oversight panel were drumming up; December’s was about November’s tie vote on the 2022 spring black bear permit hunt that put the season on pause; and January’s was about two commissioners’ thoughts on how to (not) deal with overwhelming Blue Mountains elk calf predation. Here we are in February, so I guess we’ll make it four in a row – and reinforce how important it is to be engaged right now.

LAST MONTH, THE commission voted 4-3 to approve a petition from Marie Neumiller of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council et al to reinitiate rulemaking on this year’s limited-entry bruin hunt in select game management units, mostly in the southeast and northeast corners of Washington. It’s again possible that there could be a spring season, which would start in early May instead of the previously scheduled April 15, given how the necessary paperwork filings and public comment need to occur before yet another commission vote, this one in mid-March, that will decide the matter. There are no serious conservation concerns about the state’s bear population being able to handle this selective harvest, and approving the season conforms with the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s opportunity mandate. But just days after that vote, gale-force crosswinds arrived and the makeup of the commission shifted markedly. As I sent this to press, the Governor’s Office named three new members: Timothy Ragen, retired director of the federal Marine Mammal Commission; John Lehmkuhl, a retired Forest Service researcher; and Melanie Rowland, a retired National Marine Fisheries Service attorney who is the staff counsel for the Methow Valley Citizens Council. Ragen replaced Chair Larry Carpenter, while Rowland took over Fred Koontz’s seat. Then there are the four bills in Washington’s legislature that target the commission and its authority. I don’t know that lawmakers have the time during their short 60-day session to address fish and wildlife governance and appointments, given larger issues they’re tackling, but I also recognize broadsides – at sportsmen and the governor. BOTTOM LINE: I can not credit you all enough for speaking up for the bear hunt. Thank you, I appreciate it. Many – the vast majority, in fact – of us will never pursue bruins in spring, but this attack on an easy target in a weaker state is a wider warning. We must stay engaged. Signing onto action alerts is a good start, but not enough; upping our game in Olympia is key. –Andy Walgamott | FEBRUARY 2022

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Fog doesn’t make for good hunting, except when it does. The third day of Alan Clune’s late archery season in Northcentral Washington was pretty socked in, but it also had rutty bucks covering ground, including this one close on the trail of a doe. With the muley silhouetted at 55 yards, Clune let fly, hitting it high in the shoulder. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

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very February for the last 11 years now, we’ve set aside these pages to celebrate our collective fall hunting harvest, be it deer, elk or other critters. In the following pages this month you’ll not only find readers’ trophy bucks and bulls, billies and rams, but some great first kills and stories of amazing and moving hunting experiences from across our wonderful region. Please enjoy Northwest Sportsman’s annual Big Game Yearbook! – The Editor | FEBRUARY 2022

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Credit a lot of scouting for putting Ashley Stanley in the right place for a one-hour November elk hunt on a Northeast Washington reservation, where she’s a member. After jumping three bulls in their bed, she downed this one with a shot to the heart out of her Howa .300 Magnum topped with a Vortex scope. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Jeff Benson thought he was setting family expectations pretty high with his Washington muzzleloader buck (this image), only to have daughter Carly (below right) raise the bar during the general rifle hunt with her mule deer. Son Jack also bagged a modern firearms openingweekend survivor, making for a very successful hunt the whole way around. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Every few years we see a real dandy of a buck from Bill Waite, and last year served up this fine muley for the Northcentral Washington rifle hunter. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) | FEBRUARY 2022

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The Coast knife that Grace Bolt won from us in 2020 (below) came in quite handy when it was time to field dress and quarter up her spike elk (left) last fall. Meanwhile, her dad Mike (right) made good on a trip to eastern Montana for a very nice mule deer buck. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

This big Desolation Unit five-by-six fell to a 480-yard shot from Julio Cabrera with his rifle in .300 Improved Norma Magnum, 230-grain Berger handload and NightForce scope. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

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One of the highlights of Brandon Jewett’s 2021 big game hunting season was helping Rainey Arnold fill her first deer tag. “She expressed an interest in hunting all on her own,” he recalls. “Her mom asked for a little help and we got her in for a youth tag and she drew. We had opportunities at other bucks, but every time we zigged, the deer zagged. She also took aim a couple times but didn’t feel comfortable shooting at a walking deer. I was very impressed by the decisions this first time hunter made. When she did finally touch off at 185 yards, her bullet flew true. She cried, I cried, and yeah. Long story short, I think she was the one helping me all along. I have a new found love for the outdoors.” (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) | FEBRUARY 2022

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Riley Clarey smiles over her first deer, a Central Washington mule deer doe taken on a youth tag. She bagged it with a 126-yard shot out of her .243. Last fall was her sophomore hunting campaign “and she is hooked!” reports dad, Rob. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Emily Foytack might have been disappointed after not notching her deer tag last October after a good run in Southwest Washington, but she more than made up for it by filling her youth any-bull permit for the Mt. St. Helens-area Mudflow subunit. Along with packing out her elk’s head, she also hauled two quarters. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

The Poth family hunters had a helluva good special permit season, with 13-year-old James bagging this Chelan Butte bighorn after passing on several other rams. The once-in-a-lifetime animal fell to James’ 120-yard shot with a 6.5 Creedmoor. A couple months later his dad, Justin (below), used a .300 Magnum and 220-yard shot to fill his Chewuch Unit quality tag. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

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‘As Wild As It Possibly Could Get’ PICTURE


oly sh*t, three wolverines,” deer hunter Travis Van Noy realized, as he watched a trio of the giant overgrown weasel family members run across a North Cascades wilderness meadow, followed by, “Wait a sec, they’re going to my buck!” The self-described “construction guy” and stay-at-home dad from Issaquah was bowhunting early last September in Washington’s massive Glacier Peak Wilderness with buddy Kyle McGill. Day 1 of their drop camp hunt found the duo out looking for deer in the morning, but with “super crappy weather,” they ended up hunkered in camp until that afternoon when a buck in “perfect velvet” appeared out of the fog on a hillside 400 yards away. Leaving his pack behind, Van Noy snuck to within 60 to 70 yards of the five-point, counting eyeguards, without it knowing he was there, but then the animal bedded down as the snow fell and wind blew. Van Noy says he hid behind a boulder for two hours, waiting for the buck to stand back up and present a shot. “I thought I’d have to throw a rock at him,” he says. When the archer finally had an opportunity to loose an arrow, he hit the deer, but unfortunately a bit farther back than he’d wanted. The buck ran towards Van Noy, who nocked another arrow and fired a second shot over its back, missing because his sight was set for a different distance. Still, he knew it was a mortal hit by the deer’s actions, not to mention all the blood on the ground and a chunk of intestine hanging in a bush. But he also knew that his best play was to let it expire on its own time instead of pushing it and

Travis Van Noy and his well-earned Glacier Peak Wilderness mule deer buck. Despite a family of wolverines chasing it off a cliff, gnawing the velvet off its antlers and eating portions of the carcass, the Washington hunter was able to salvage 70 pounds of meat and the rack. (KYLE MCGILL/TRAVIS VAN NOY) | FEBRUARY 2022

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Van Noy’s buck, at that point still in velvet and as seen grazing in a mountain meadow through his hunting partner Kyle McGill’s spotting scope. (KYLE MCGILL/TRAVIS VAN NOY)

pushing it until it crawled into some hellhole or went over a pass and proved unrecoverable. “Gut shot, you just gotta let him sit,” Van Noy says. “It’s gonna die, but it’s gonna take awhile.” Returning to camp, he talked things over with McGill as they ate their Mountain House dinners. But then after an hour and a half had passed, things got unexpectedly active again. “Just sitting around having our whiskey when I look up. ‘Those aren’t marmots,’” Van Noy says. He watched as three lowslung, darkcolored animals “frisked” around on a big boulder before taking off into the wind.

That’s when he realized they were wolverines, and what’s more, they were headed toward his buck.

HE WATCHED THEM beeline across “500 yards in a minute” to reach the start of the deer’s blood trail and frisk again. The largest one continued toward where the hunters believed the buck to be. “Oh, my God, they’re going to bump this buck and we’re going to lose him to them,” Van Noy recalls worrying as night began to fall on the mountains. The next morning, he and McGill followed the deer’s blood trail and found the wolverines had indeed bumped it from a bed, pushing it 40 yards to the

A mother wolverine and likely her two nearly grown kits hot on the trail of Van Noy’s deer. The trio, members of the largest species of weasel, also hunted marmots in the same area. “It was just so cool, so crazy,” says Van Noy. (KYLE MCGILL/TRAVIS VAN NOY) 36 Northwest Sportsman


“worst possible place” – the top of a 150foot cliff. “You could tell a battle scene ensued. They had him on the ground and he got up,” Van Noy says. But even with all the tracks and drag marks, the “gruesome scene” didn’t tell them where Van Noy’s buck had gone – until they looked over the edge. “Basically the buck jumped off the cliff. There were some guts in a tree. Suicide mission, ‘I’m jumping,’” Van Noy says. The buck rolled until piling up on a root wad below. “We had to climb down into this nasty cliffy stuff,” he recalls. “I’d assume he was dead (from the fall), but if not, they got him fast.” Along with eating some of the velvet off its antlers, Van Noy describes wolverine wounds to the deer’s snout, neck, tail, anus and one leg. He says the tenderloins weren’t salvageable and there was bloodshot loss from his arrow, but he still managed to bag up some 70 pounds worth of venison. But the wolverines hadn’t had their fill of fresh meat quite yet. On Day 3, as McGill was out trying to notch his tag, the trio turned up again, this time to hunt hoary marmots. “We heard crazy snarling, like a dog ripping up a marmot, and saw one running along with a marmot in its mouth,” Van Noy says.

BACK HOME, A Google search told him there are only an estimated 30 to 40 wolverines in Washington. “So we just saw 10 percent of the wolverine population, or whatever the number is,” Van Noy says. The odds seem vanishingly slim to have seen and experienced something like this, but the landscape Van Noy and McGill hunted is also prime for the species. “It’s wild, rugged country cherished by hunters, hikers and horsepackers, made even wilder by the presence of the wolverine,” says Chase Gunnell, who managed bait and hare snare stations nearby. It’s probable the three were a mother and two grown kits, part of a slowly growing Washington population that first reestablished itself in the North


A peek over the edge of the 150-foot cliff that the buck was pursued off of by the wolverines. (KYLE MCGILL/TRAVIS VAN NOY)

Cascades in the 1990s and has now spread to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. Well known for their tenacity, females weigh up to 27 pounds and males up to 44 pounds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They den where snow lingers longest, inhabit “extraordinarily large activity areas (from 40 to greater than 770 square miles),” per the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and feed mainly on carrion and small mammals. “They’re not big, but I don’t think it would be hard for them to take down a fawn or a sick deer,” Van Noy states. A remarkable video taken during a March 2017 blizzard in Norway shows a reindeer trying to fend off a large lone wolverine, throwing its relentless attacker several times. Van Noy and McGill didn’t quite see that, but they had a Washington wilderness hunting experience like no other last fall. “It seems as wild as it possibly could get, it was so cool,” says Van Noy. “It’s all pretty magical.” –Andy Walgamott

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When Samantha Gaudette has something in her scope, best to trust her judgment. Boyfriend Brandon Jewett tried to talk her out of a 410-yard shot on this buck, but having punched steel at that distance and confident in her abilities, she pulled the trigger. “Perfect shot. I mean perfect,” he states. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

The Hart hunters are used to success, but Randy Hart Jr. (this image) terms last year’s blackpowder season the “best trip in years!” after he and his dad Randy Hart Sr. and son Brennon all tagged out on the same day in different parts of Southeast Washington’s Prescott Unit, and all using Knight Muzzleloaders loaded with 300-grain Smackdown Bullets. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

A text that his daughter Danica had just shot a deer had Brad Herman hightailing it out of his treestand and heading home. There he found the 12-year-old first-year hunter “with a smile from ear to ear” and a whitetail doe down. She’d spotted it as her mom was driving down the driveway on the Monday morning after Washington’s rifle opener. They quickly went back to the house where Danica grabbed her rifle in 7mm Rem Mag, bullets and hunter orange, and then went back to the deer. She stepped out of the car, got a good rest and filled her youth antlerless tag. “I couldn’t be happier for this little girl and her first successful deer hunt. Let’s hope for another successful deer hunt next year and thank you for helping to feed our family!” wrote Brad of Danica. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) | FEBRUARY 2022

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Elk season took Gary and Wyatt Lundquist first to Central Washington’s Yakima Training Center, where they were busted trying to stalk a small herd but Gary (below) was still able to make a running shot with his opensighted CVA Wolf Muzzleloader on a cow, and then to Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains for a two-week excursion. There, they put the sneak on a herd and got to within 200 yards before a pair of side-by-sides a mile off started making the cows nervous. When this bull stood up, Wyatt (right) dropped the hammer, and two days of hauling meat and antlers ensued. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

You might remember Jamie Mcleod from December’s Real Women of Northwest Fishing and her nice Buoy 10 Chinook. Well, fall in Northwest Oregon’s Saddle Mountain Unit also paid off for Jamie with this blacktail she took with a 40-yard shot out of her Leupold-topped Remington 7mm. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

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Bowhunting the basalt lands of Eastern Washington, Pierce Offner, 15, arrowed this nice mule deer last season. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) | FEBRUARY 2022

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The snow from an opening day storm had melted at the elevation where I shot his Blue Mountains bull, but a snow squall at the kill site provided a nice backdrop. Washington’s quality elk hunts, at least in my one-time experience, are the definition of quality. Conservative management of branched antler bulls and overall herd structure has led to remarkable hunting opportunities in the Blues for the few who draw. (JEFF HOLMES)

By Jeff Holmes


logged in several times to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online special application results page to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. I finally drew a coveted “any bull” muzzleloader elk tag for one of the Blue Mountains game management units known to harbor giant bulls that are dumb to calls. The results consistently showed “Lick Creek: SELECTED.” I grew up hunting ruffed and blue grouse and also chukar and Hungarian partridge in Lick Creek. I had seen a lot of

elk and had once seen matched sheds on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Elk Tour from Lick Creek that were well over 400 inches. I wasn’t expecting anything huge – any branched bull would make me happy – but I knew what it meant to be the only nontribal elk hunter in the unit with a gun from September 27 to October 6. I scanned down to my fat gut in early summer and realized I needed to take action. I ate keto, gave up beer entirely, and dropped over 40 pounds before season’s start. It wasn’t close to enough, but it was something. I scouted several

times throughout the summer, obsessed over onX maps, and tried to figure out where I was going to shoot a bull, by myself, and be able to haul it out in potentially very warm September temperatures. I grew up mostly bird and deer hunting and only took up elk hunting in middle age, so I didn’t have a big network of elk hunter friends to help. A few people had warily told me they’d help, but I decided to count on having to haul one out by myself if needed. Right before I was set to leave, however, two friends I had never hunted with offered to come up. Luckily for me, one of them was Boardman, Oregon’s Bryce Doherty. All of my fretting about unseasonably | FEBRUARY 2022

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warm weather was for naught once season rolled around. An epic September storm was set to hit the mountain ranges of much of the West. I headed up to a favorite Forest Service spot two days early to set up camp, lay in firewood, and scout. Two days of scouting several miles behind closed gates yielded good sign and some bugles, and lots of regrets for not bringing something to kill blue grouse, which were posing and lifting into trees with annoying regularity.


Mila George, 7, of Kennewick spied this clump of morels and many more growing on a steep hillside amidst old-growth grand fir trees on a north-facing slope just two months before the Lick Creek fire swept through the area in 2021. Those big firs burned superficially several years ago but remained alive. Like much of the timber in the Lick Creek unit, they may now be ash. Riches of morels resulting from the burns will be a poor consolation prize, but one worth accepting. (JEFF HOLMES)



his past summer, the biggest combined wildfire event in Washington’s Blue Mountains in our lifetime burned a total of 124,000 acres of Lick Creek, Tucannon and possibly other game management units. For comparison, to illustrate the scope of these burns, 2005’s School Fire south of Pomeroy burned 52,000 acres. It was the largest wildfire in the Lower 48 that year. Generations of deer, elk and bird hunters will return to the Blues to survey what has been lost, which is surely a lot. Travis Mattix of Clarkston is a morel hunter and side-byside rider in the eastern half of Washington’s Blues, and he’s accessed as much of the area as can be by vehicle and reports grim losses. Mattix and I share a not-so-secret morel mushroom honey hole that we both take lots of people to and fill our sacks full of ’shrooms. Neither of us are sure if that beautiful niche on a steep hillside still exists, but this spring will reveal the losses. What the spring will also surely reveal is a bumper crop of morels. Beautiful and highly expensive morels are prolific for a brief period each spring in parts of Washington and Oregon’s Blue Mountains, but never are the mushrooms more abundant than after a fire. For example, the School Fire produced huge amounts of morels for a few years, then began to decline, leading to poor to almost no picking within 10 years. Pickers can expect similar bounties this spring by exploring the footprints of the Lick Creek Fire (roughly 81,000 acres) and the Green Ridge Fire (approximately 44,000 acres). A major key to success is timing and remembering that morels emerge at lower elevations in the early season and progressively emerge throughout spring at higher elevations. Generally, most pickable public land in the Blues is over 4,000 feet, and it seems the first week of May is a good time to start looking, depending on snowpack and how chilly spring is. Moving around, covering ground, and checking different exposures is key. Nothing requires an outdoorsperson to slow down and focus on the microenvironments of the woods like mushroom hunting, and it can become addicting. These beautiful, brainy, honeycomby ’shrooms sell for $30 a pound, sometimes much more. Check with the Umatilla National Forest ( for details on personal limits, commercial picking and permits. –JH

46 Northwest Sportsman


THE FIRST TWO days of my elk season were wonderful but unproductive. Day one offered poor visibility due to big flakes and an accumulation of 3 to 5 inches of snow, but I got on elk in the morning a couple miles behind a closed gate. Fresh tracks of several elk, including a bull, in an inch of fresh snow led into a likely bedding area, and I followed. But before I even let out a cow call, an unexpected volley of what sounded like .223 ammo erupted above me just several hundred yards away. I was way behind a gate, but an open road snaked remarkably close to me on an adjoining ridge. It ended up being a nice walk. The evening’s hunt also yielded no sign and no bugling in an area that had just had lots of elk. Day two of hunting up high in my scouted areas bore no fruit either. I wondered if the numerous giant slash piles the Forest Service had lit the day before season were affecting elk behavior. The fires were all over 5,200 feet and licked 50 feet into the air in some cases, lighting up the night sky when viewed from afar. On the night before day three of season, Bryce Doherty showed up and before we could even connect at camp, he bugled up two mature bulls close to the road. The bulls were in two of my favorite morel hunting spots, several hundred feet of elevation lower than I had been scouting and hunting. Bryce is an expert elk caller with fantastic bugling ability, and I looked forward to going after an aggressive bull with him in the lead. I knew my chances had increased and that this was going to be fun. IT WAS 25 degrees on September 30 at first light as Bryce and I dropped into a shallow canyon on a closed road. Before we got

PICTURE far, he signaled me to stop so he could call. His guttural bugle and chuckle elicited an immediate and defiant response from a bull maybe a quarter of a mile away in heavy timber. Between us and the timber was a slow-growing 20-year-old cut with a lot of visibility. We dropped into it through 4 inches of snow, taking up a position across the small canyon from where we thought the bull would emerge. Cow calling by Bryce coaxed a nice sixpoint out of the trees, along with nine cows. We watched the bull herd the cows for maybe 15 minutes, urinating all over himself and chasing cows like a dog working sheep, stopping to roar bugles at Bryce occasionally, and ultimately wandering off bugling over his shoulder. He was 225 to 250 yards away

the whole time, too far for ethical shooting with a muzzleloader despite the magnum Triple 7 loads and 300-grain machined, brass Bloodline bullets. No bullet makes up for my mediocre aim. We made a plan to go after him in the little herd’s bedding area later but swiftly aborted when another bull started roaring behind us in an adjoining small canyon where morels grow in profusion in the springtime. We turned around and went toward the bull, spooking two blue grouse out of the snow at our feet. Bryce and all of my hunting partners come to grow sick of my obsessive talking about blues, aka dusky grouse. He urged me to focus on the charged-up bull, which had been excited by our conversation with the first bull. Like the first bull, this one had a sizeable harem. He responded to all of Bryce’s bugles and cow calls, but slowly led his cows in

My bull wasn’t the biggest on the mountain, but I was thrilled with the quality of the hunt and the bulls. The overall downtrend in Blue Mountain elk populations (Northwest Sportsman, July 2021, January 2022) is disturbing, as is unchecked predation, but the management of the herd structure by state biologists has been excellent so far. (JEFF HOLMES) 48 Northwest Sportsman


another direction, right into a drainage with a closed road system. We were unsuccessful locating him or any more bulls that day and burned the last hour and a half of daylight to drive to slightly lower elevations and a network of timbered canyons bounded by ridges bearing tall grass. We immediately found elk on public land, including bulls, really big ones, in relatively close proximity to roads. It was too dark to count points, but the racks were wide and tall. That night we ate well, modestly passed a bottle, and made a plan for the morning.

BRYCE AND I parked high atop a huge sloping ridge that spawns many side canyons and decided to walk straight down it, listening and calling as seemed wise. This ridge was exactly where the bulls had emerged the night prior. We decided that with the lack of hunting pressure and it still being October 1 that we would take an aggressive approach. We saw where multiple herds of elk had chewed up the soaking-wet ground and saw the tracks of the bulls we had seen the night before. A little over a mile walk down the ridge, we heard a distant bugle from another halfmile down, then another, then another in short succession. Bryce’s and my eyes lit up and we started to close the distance. Once within 400 to 500 yards, Bryce let out a few soft cow calls, and that bull started charging at us, bugling! We reacted fast and dropped off of the grassy main ridge into dark timber on a north-facing slope, both for concealment and to get the wind advantage, the bull bugling maniacally and obviously coming closer, fast. Bryce hid in dark timber while I moved quickly toward the bull and posted up behind a 15-foot Doug fir. Once in position, it took 10 seconds before I saw the bull running toward Bryce’s gentle cow calling. He stopped twice over 100 yards to bugle, almost sprinting when not bugling, crashing through a thick bunch of pines and shredding dry branches on the way. The bull ran to within 17 yards, quartering slightly toward me, uphill of me slightly. He stopped and stared intently at where Bryce had been calling. As I raised the Thompson/ Center to my shoulder, the bull stretched out his neck and bugled. The bullet crashed

PICTURE into his front shoulder, blowing up the bone and passing through both lungs and out the cape! He wheeled, chewed up ground, sprinted 75 yards, and died. Bloodline bullets are specialized to pass through an elk hide on the backside, but this bull would have died if I was shooting round balls. Breaking down and packing out the bull that day was some of the most fun and challenge I’d had in years. Bryce’s mastery with a knife helped to make short work of the butchery, and an easy 1.6-mile pack with only several hundred feet of elevation gain was made easier by Bryce helping me with two big loads. The whole experience made me regret not taking up elk hunting as a passion much earlier and not being in better shape, but it also inspired me to lose more weight and to fill my freezer up again with another 360 pounds of the best meat in the woods. Still working on that. NS

50 Northwest Sportsman


Fishing guide Bryce Doherty doesn’t guide hunters but easily could. He says he wouldn’t want to ruin all of the fun. Practically speaking, he was my unpaid guide. He located, called, butchered and packed better than me and then wouldn’t take any meat. (JEFF HOLMES) | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 51

Usu hun try wit gra mid (bo


Usually you’ll find the Ramseys doing their Oregon deer hunting on a Fossil Unit ranch, but last fall saw them try their luck in the Malheur Unit. A chance encounter with a group of does led them to a patch of lush green grass and water, and from there Buzz and son Wade (top, middle) notched their tags, as did Buzz’s nephew John (bottom). (BUZZ RAMSEY)

A pair of muleys and a whitetail made for a great deer season for the Braatens, Eric, Misty and their son Logan. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 53


Last year’s seasons saw Stan Weeks again successful during the Washington High Buck hunt (top left), wife Monica draw and fill a Cleman Mountain ewe permit (this image), and Stan even had time for a trip to Alaska’s Kodiak Island. “That was a fun hunt!” he says, and one replete with “interesting” bruin encounters. After Weeks shot his mountain goat (bottom left), the carcass slid down a mountainside and a bear beat him to it and began dragging it off by its face before he was able to dissuade the bruin from his kill. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

“Thank you so much for your support over the last 46 years!”

Hunters, bring in your green hides to Centralia Fur and Hide and let us turn it into a hair-on hide, or some light gold leather. We will also trade a deer, or an elk hide for a pair of pigskin work gloves. Phone: 360-736-3663 Toll Free: 877-736-2525 Centralia Fur & Hide Inc. 2012 Gallagher Road Centralia, WA 98531 USA

54 Northwest Sportsman


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The First Bird After

Maizy the yellow Lab/golden retriever mix and the author’s son Tyler Harrod during a winter duck hunt on the family’s Eastern Oregon ranch. (RICHY HARROD)

By Richy Harrod


he was walking around in the bed of a pickup with her brothers and sisters. Vicki, the kids and I leaned on the side and watched their interaction. It was hard to pick because they all were cute little buggers. Finally, one seemed to grab our collective attention and we said, “We’ll take this one.” We paid the owner $75 for the yellow Lab/ golden retriever mix puppy and headed home with our new family member. We named her Maizy because she was yellow like maize. Her yellow fur was even brighter after the bath she badly needed. Our kids were in their early teens and they

played with her frequently, attempting to distract from the constant chewing on our shoes. It was March and she lived in the garage to keep her warm and to monitor her destructive little bite. My family raised dogs when I was a kid on our ranch in Eastern Oregon. My uncle and cousins had cattle dogs, but Dad, my brother and I had hunting dogs. Every day during hunting season was spent working the pointers on the ranch or sagebrush hills nearby. Both dogs I raised were great upland bird hunters that would point and retrieve with the best of them. College brought an end to dog ownership, so when Maizy arrived, I was excited to train and work another hunting dog.

Training a bird dog takes time and patience. I worked with Maizy daily for several months, teaching her the basics of coming when called, sitting, and staying. The numerous quail in our half-acre field would pique her interest. They would taunt her by walking near her large, homebuilt outdoor kennel (we called it the “Dog Mahal”). Training for duck hunts on the water was also part of the regimen. A water dog was new for me. But after our first trips to the river, it was soon clear that water was not her favorite. Swimming became more natural with age, but it was a struggle to get our Lab into the drink.

THAT FIRST FALL in the field and on the | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 57

the strongest hunter and lead to sore paws. Maizy took it all in stride and eagerly ran the hills again, despite stiff joints and tender paws. Most years we’d trade days on the slopes for a morning or two in the duck blind on the family ranch along the Powder River. Maizy didn’t like sitting still. Any chance to leave the blind and she’d start searching for birds in the sagebrush. Duck hunting wasn’t always nonstop action, but we shot enough birds to keep our interest. My son Tyler and I enjoyed many days with her in the blind, making new memories to complement those of my youth.


The arrival of a new pup was a chance for Harrod to get back into training a dog, though it would take a bit of work to break Maizy of her shoe-biting habit. (RICHY HARROD)

Maizy hunted chukar across Eastern Oregon for 11 years before it finally became too much for her, though she continued to accompany the Harrods in their duck blind and on their walleye fishing boat. (RICHY HARROD) water was mostly a learning experience for both Maizy and me. Chukar hunting seemed to excite her the most, but she worked well on the river too. We took her everywhere. She loved going for a ride in the back of the pickup, even if it meant being in her insulated dog box. Already she was becoming more than just a hunting partner; she was a constant companion. 58 Northwest Sportsman


Maizy’s skills as a bird hunter increased steadily over the next several years. Upland birds were still her favorite. We made several trips to the breaks of the Snake River in Eastern Oregon, the place we hunted frequently in my adolescence. The mountains are incredibly steep and rocky. Multiple days of hunting in this unforgiving country can challenge even

IN 2016, WHEN Maizy was 10, we went on our last chukar hunt together. My brother and I hunted near Richland, Oregon, for two consecutive days. The chukars were few and far between. The first day we hiked several miles over steep, rough hills but our hunting vests were bristling with feathers and orange feet. The next day Maizy could hardly get out of her dog box but she wouldn’t be left behind, so off we went to find more birds. We made one short 1-mile loop up a draw and then down a ridgeline. There were no birds or sign. Maizy was limping badly, so my brother continued on while Maizy and I dropped down to the bottom to chase quail. It took her nearly a week to recover from this trip, so my wife Vicki and I decided this would be her last chukar hunt. From then on, we took her fishing and duck hunting but she could only watch with the saddest Lab face as I drove away with shotgun and chukar vest. She continued to accompany us everywhere, even if it wasn’t hunting season. For years, she accompanied me on daily fitness hikes. I would utter the words, “Go for a walk?” and she pulled her leash from the basket by the door and dropped it at my feet. But this too became harder for her and sometime at the end of 2016, we noticed why. A tumorous growth was becoming visible on her left front leg. It increased in size over the next few months and finally we had the vet remove it in 2017. We thought the tumor was a lipoma but the vet suspected it was cancer. He wasn’t sure how long it would stay away. She did pretty well after her surgery and for two years seemed like the normal


A Christmas miracle? Maizy looking down from heaven at her old two-legged hunting partner? Who’s to say, but after having to put her down, the first chukar Harrod harvested made for an unexpectedly powerful moment. (RICHY HARROD)

happy dog she always was, minus the ability to hike or walk very far. By the end of 2020, the tumor had returned with a vengeance and we had no choice to put her down. Vicki and I took her to the vet, and as my good friend would say, “walked with her on the last mile.” It was a difficult day, to say the least.

IT WASN’T LIKE I hadn’t chukar hunted without Maizy before. After all, it had been four years since she helped me find and retrieve birds. Up the hill, just out of sight of the pickup, I felt like I was missing 60 Northwest Sportsman


something but couldn’t figure out what it was. Chukar sign and the promise of birds in flight soon distracted my thoughts. I climbed higher up the mountain and cut across the slope into a draw. More fresh sign was everywhere. A few more steps and a single bird exploded into flight. Instinctively, I brought my over/under double-barrel shotgun to my shoulder, picked a bird, swung with its flight, and released a storm of shot that brought the fast flyer to the ground. The success was sweet, as four of my previous trips had resulted in nothing but sore feet.

The bird piled up in short, dry grass in the bottom of the draw, so it was easy to spot. As I held the bird in my hand, an unexpected emotion poured over me. Now I knew what was missing. Being emotional about the loss of an animal was not something I had really ever experienced. Life and death of cattle, horses and dogs were common occurrences on the family ranch. But this was different. Maizy had been part of our family’s everyday life for nearly 15 years. She went everywhere with me, and waited anxiously for me to return when I was away. It was at this moment I realized just how much I missed having her by my side. More birds flew around the hill above me, beckoning to hurry on. But I didn’t leave my sitting rock for almost 20 minutes. The scenery was beautiful and my mind filled with good memories of chasing chukars with Maizy, some even in this very spot. I stared at my grey and gold prize, which now had special meaning. The details of this masked little bandit were particularly vivid and I marveled at its colors. Soon the birds were chuckling above me and I stuffed my special bird into my vest and carried on. There were more groups of birds here and there across the hillside, and it seemed lady luck was on my side. With four birds in my vest, I made my way back to the pickup for a much-needed rest and big drink of water. I laid my birds out on a rock for a photo keepsake of the day, the first chukar prominently placed in front. It was Christmas Eve and my cousin joked that my success was a Christmas miracle. I’m not too superstitious, but maybe, just maybe, my former hunting partner was watching over me that day. NS Editor’s note: Richy J. Harrod is the owner of Harrod Outdoors LLC, a small outdoor media production company. He produces The Northwest Outdoorsmen television series, which has received eight awards from the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association. Harrod has produced award-winning short films, produced numerous product promotional videos, coproduces a podcast (We are Outdoorsmen), and written outdoor books, blogs, and newsletter articles. For more, see

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WDFW Regional Director Addresses Hunting Violation

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Northcentral Region Director Brock Hoenes (left) speaks during an agency virtual open house January 19, 2022. He and Director Kelly Susewind (right) both addressed an investigation into Hoenes’ alleged shooting of a deer with a rifle during an archery-only season. (WDFW)


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional manager who self-reported mistakenly shooting a whitetail buck with a rifle in a unit only open at the time for archery deer hunting spoke publicly about it during an agency virtual open house last month. Brock Hoenes, who oversees WDFW’s Region 2, Northcentral Washington, called it “a regrettable and embarrassing mistake” that he could have avoided had he opened the regulations beforehand, but in also owning it, he said he hoped it

might serve as a “learning experience” for other sportsmen to always double check the pamphlet before heading afield. “I wish I could take it back, but I can’t, so I simply have to own up to that mistake and accept the consequences that come with it,” Hoenes said. “What I can say tonight is that there’s no way for me to spin this or make an excuse. I’m in this situation because I didn’t take the 30 seconds it would have taken me to double check in the hunting pamphlet what I thought to be true in my head.” “As such, I do hope that this can serve

as a learning experience for other hunters and that no matter how long you’ve been going on a hunt or how confident you are in knowing the regulations, always double check them before you go out because there’s always a chance that you’ve misremembered or there’s been a small change that’s been made,” he said. Charged by Ferry County prosecutors with unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree, WDFW’s former Ungulate Section manager faces a maximum of a year in jail and $5,000 fine. According to court documents, Hoenes was hunting in Game Management Unit 101 November 13 when he shot and killed a four-point whitetail with a .30-06. But as he began field dressing the deer, he “realized that he had not seen or heard anyone else” that day and that by midmorning he was “pretty sure” the unit wasn’t actually open for the late rifle whitetail season, like those just to the east in Stevens, Pend Oreille and northeastern Spokane Counties. When Hoenes could get a cell phone signal, he confirmed his dawning suspicions that the unit was closed, so he then called his wife, WDFW Captain Mike Jewell and WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. Court documents state that he told game wardens, “I had it in my head it was open,” as well as, “No excuse, it’s incredibly



ou would think that somebody yelling, “It’s a decoy! Been there all morning!” might dissuade a guy from taking a shot at game wardens’ fake elk, but you’d be wrong – at least in the case of a spike bull set up in Northwest Oregon’s three-point-minimum Saddle Mountain Unit last November. State fish and wildlife troopers reported on the case in that month’s newsletter, saying that they had set up the faux wapiti

with help from the district wildlife biologist as part of a Wildlife Enforcement Decoy operation. It soon caught the attention of a driver, but he had to move along after a dump truck came up behind him. However, he pulled a U-turn and quickly came back to the scene. As he got out with rifle in hand, troopers say that another vehicle that had previously passed by the decoy, returned and an occupant shouted the warning to the guy. Maybe it was lost in translation or something, but locked onto the elk, the

guy bent over and put the sneak on the simulated spike. Then, taking a knee, he put Cervus counterfeitis in his sights and let rip with four shots. Unsatisfied with the results, or possibly not quite catching on that his quarry was a bogus bull, he reloaded and winged three more bullets its way before a trooper was able to bring the guy’s fusillade at the furry fabrication to a finale. It all led to a very real citation of unlawful take for the guy, not to mention seizure of his decoy dinger. | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 65

MIXED BAG embarrassing.” He was described as “cooperative and apologetic” while being interviewed by WDFW officers. Hunters generally sympathized with Hoenes, with many nodding at the complexity of the regulations pamphlet and noting his intent hadn’t been to break the law that day and that he had selfreported. The rules are the rules, however, and Hoenes is going to take some lumps, but agitators bent on “reforming” WDFW were also trying to build a proverbial federal case out of the incident. For his part, Director Susewind stated that Hoenes had “owned this from the beginning. We all make mistakes. He did exactly what we encourage people to do when they feel like they may have made a violation or committed a violation: That’s contact us directly in that self-reporting.” He said that it won’t be until after court proceedings wrap up “before we really decide what we’re going to do.” That will involve internal consultations with WDFW’s Human Resources department.

Unique Sentence For Illegal Guide-Poacher


ho says judges can’t have a little fun when they’re sentencing poachers? One in Idaho split up a serial offender’s 90-day prison term so he will be locked up during the Gem State’s archery elk hunt for three seasons running. Paul D. Coward of St. Maries was also barred for hunting for 10 years in the 49 states of the Interstate Violator Compact and ordered to pay $16,000 in fines and restitution after he pled guilty to guiding and outfitting without a license, unlawful baiting, possession of unlawfully taken wildlife and felonious possession of firearms, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The 55-year-old was long suspected of poaching, with citizen complaints going back two-plus decades, IDFG stated. It led to a three-year investigation in which conservation officers gathered evidence that Coward was illegally baiting to attract and hunt big game animals, and working as an outfitter and guide without proper state licenses. Per IDFG, Coward “admitted he knew what he was doing was illegal, but chose to continue.” The unique sentence from Judge Scott Wayman broke Coward’s full three-month county jail sentence into 30-day hitches to be served this coming September and 2023’s and 2024’s Septembers as well “in order to prohibit him from being in the field during the archery elk season when many of his violations took place.” Coward was prosecuted by Benjamin Allen of the Shoshone County Prosecutor’s Office.


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66 Northwest Sportsman



Extra-wide aisles marked the Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show in Redmond last March. (JOHN KRUSE, NORTHWESTERN OUTDOORS RADIO)




FEBRUARY 2-6 Washington Sportsmen’s Show, Washington State Fair & Events Center, Puyallup; Eugene Boat & Sportsmen’s Show, Lane Events Center, Eugene; 4-12 Seattle Boat Show, Lumen Field Event Center and Bell Harbor Marina, Seattle; 11-13 Douglas County Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show, Douglas County (Oregon) Fairgrounds, Roseburg; 16-20 Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show, Expo Center, Portland; 25-27 Jackson County Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show, Jackson County Expo, Medford;


MARCH The Idaho Sportsman Show, Expo Idaho, Boise; 3-6 BC Sportsmen’s Show, Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre, Abbotsford; 10-13 Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show, Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Redmond; 17-20 Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, Spokane Fair and Expo Center, Spokane; 18-20 Victoria Boat and Fishing Show, Pearkes Recreation Centre at Tillicum Mall, Victoria;


MAY 19-22 Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show, Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes;

CANCELLED FOR 2022/POSTPONED UNTIL 2023 Central Washington Sportsmen Show, Northwest Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo, The Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen Show, Vancouver International Boat Show; TBD: Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show * With Covid-19, always confirm public events before attending. | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 69




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• Moose Creek offers moose, whitetail and waterfowl hunts. • ATVs are used for transportation during hunts. • Deer hunts are conducted on agricultural land as well as wilderness areas. • Moose hunts are conducted in widerness areas. • Accommodations depend upon on what hunt you’re on. In remote tent camps, lodge, or ranch house.

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Our remote Alaskan fishing lodge is situated on the upper stretches of the beautiful Egegik River. You’ll watch some of Alaska’s most stunning sunrises, complete with a distant, active volcano. We are a fishing camp specializing in coho fishing, brown bear viewing, and flyout fishing adventures to even more remote destinations in the Last Frontier.

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JANUARY 2022 |






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IDAHO BOISE Idaho Marine Inc. 4000 W Fariview Ave #2432 (208) 342-0639 OREGON CLACKAMAS Portland Marine & Electronics 12125 SE Hwy 212 (503) 922-3259 CULVER Culver Marine 9066 SW Feather Dr (541) 546-3354 EUGENE Clemens Marina 309 River Ave (541) 688-5483 FLORENCE Y Marina 2520 Highway 101 (541) 590-3313 GARIBALDI Greg’s Marine Service, Inc. 409 E Garibaldi Ave (503) 322-3643 www.gregsmarienservice GLADSTONE Clemens Marina 19215 SE McLoughlin (503) 655-0160 KLAMATH FALLS Pelican Marina 928 Front St (541) 882-5834 PORTLAND Sportcraft Marina, Inc. 13200 SE McLoughlin Blvd (503) 656-6484 Clemens Marina 919 MArine Dr (503) 283-1712

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Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: 5 Oregon, Washington statewide veterans and active military waterfowl hunting day; Washington statewide youth waterfowl hunting day; Mid-Columbia Zone white and white-fronted goose opener; Northwest Oregon Permit late goose opener 10 Deadline to apply for Oregon spring bear permit 12 Late white goose opener in Washington Goose Management Areas 1, 4; Late goose opener in Washington Goose Management Area 2 Coast and Inland zones (state wildlife areas, federal refuges closed; select dates) 14-18 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: see above 15 Last day to apply for Idaho spring bear hunt; Last day of steelhead fishing in select Puget Sound terminal areas 19 Oregon South Coast Zone late goose hunt opens 19-20 Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon; ODFW Ice Fishing Workshops ($, register), Lake of the Woods, Oregon – info: 20 Last day of Oregon Zone 1 snipe hunt 26-28 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: see above 28 Last day of bobcat, fox season in Oregon; Last day to fish for steelhead on numerous rivers, creeks on Washington coastal systems

MARCH 1 10 12 15 20 31

Lake Billy Chinook’s Metolius Arm opens for fishing; Numerous Eastern Washington lakes open for fishing; Blackmouth opener on Washington Marine Area 5 Last day of Oregon Northwest Permit and South Coast Canada, and High Desert and Blue Mountains Zone white and white-fronted goose seasons Bottomfish, lingcod, rockfish and cabezon seasons open in Washington Marine Areas 1-3 and Area 4 west of Bonilla-Tatoosh line Last day of bobcat, fox, raccoon, rabbit and hare season in Washington Washington sea duck, Southwest Canada goose, snow goose and brant harvest reports due Last day 2021-22 Washington fishing, hunting licenses valid; Last day to fish for steelhead on remaining open Washington coastal systems

APRIL 1 1-7 2 8-14 9-10 15 22 23

New Washington fishing, hunting licenses required; Opening day for special permit bear hunts in select Idaho and Oregon units NEW – Washington youth turkey hunting week ODFW Youth Turkey Hunting Clinic ($, registration), White River Wildlife Area – info: see above Idaho youth turkey hunting week Oregon youth turkey hunting weekend General spring turkey season opener in Idaho, Oregon and Washington; Opening day of special permit bear hunts in more Idaho and Oregon units Fishing or bait opener on select Oregon waters Opening day of lowland lake fishing season in Washington

* With Covid-19 restrictions in flux, always confirm public events before attending. | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 81


New Column On ‘Becoming A Hunter’ Kicks Off M

any of us have been introduced to the world of hunting by a family member or friend, but BECOMING A HUNTER for some, becoming a By Dave Anderson hunter isn’t something that was passed on from generations before us, or taught to us by someone we know. The drive to be a hunter or make hunting a tradition has been growing in popularity, especially the past few years. The want and desire to be outside in nature and provide for our families has been a driving force encouraging people from all walks of life to partake in the tradition of hunting. In my youth I was self-driven to want to hunt. My father always fished but never had the passion for hunting like I did. Along the way I was very lucky to meet a friend whose father would mentor me, taking me under his wing and allowing me to be a part of his hunting group. He treated me like a second son. I feel incredibly lucky to have been given that opportunity and mentorship. Otherwise, my entry into the world of hunting would not have been so easy.

I GREW UP hunting in the Midwest. Eighty percent of my time was spent hunting upland game, primarily pheasants. I can’t think of a weekend during pheasant season that we were not out in the field. When pheasant season was closed, we would hunt ducks and geese. My introduction to big game and deer hunting was in northwest

Dave Anderson has been sharing hunting strategies for Northwest deer and elk in these pages for a couple years now, but got his start as a kid pursuing pheasants in the Midwest with a friend’s dad. In this new column he will describe the steps to getting into hunting. (DAVE ANDERSON) | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 83

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COLUMN A trip to see a friend in Riggins, Idaho, opened Anderson’s eyes to hunting the West. With the mountains calling his name, he enrolled in a guide and outfitting school in Montana. (DAVE ANDERSON)

Iowa, where we hunted deer during the shotgun season. I believe I was 15 years old when I harvested my first whitetail. After I graduated high school, I had a great job working at the Pure Fishing factory in Spirit Lake, Iowa. My job was a nylon extrusion technician, which is a fancy name for someone who makes fishing line. I made Berkley Trilene, Fireline and Fluorocarbon, just to name a few. A couple years into that, I decided to visit a friend of mine in Riggins, Idaho, who went to work for an outfitter. That trip opened my eyes to a whole different world. The mountains were definitely calling my name, so after that trip I fasttracked my life and took everything I had and moved out West. I attended a guide and packer school in Philipsburg, Montana. It was one of the best experiences of my life. They did not teach me how to hunt, but offered tips 86 Northwest Sportsman


on hunting elk and glassing. I also learned how to work with horses and mules, and a plethora of lifelong backcountry skills. After guide school, I went on to work as a guide in the Frank Church and Selway Wildernesses of Idaho, the Greys River area of Wyoming, and in Central Montana. I worked as a guide with different outfitters for a few years, then ended up going a different direction and started a career in the industry that I’ve been working in for about 20 years. This is my Cliffs Notes version of how I became a hunter. The reason I’m sharing my story is to tell you that starting out I had no idea how to hunt elk, mule deer, black bears and other big game species. I was lucky enough to have some opportunities that opened doors for me, where I was able to learn from some very good outfitters and guides. My point is, you do not have to be born and raised a hunter in order to become a hunter.

IN TODAY’S SOCIETY, we have so many resources available that we never had years ago. Social media and YouTube are loaded with information, guides and different tools to help get you interested and started in hunting. Some of my favorite shows on YouTube include Fresh Tracks with Randy Newberg, Born and Raised Outdoors, Gritty and Hush – the list could go on and on. There are also many great resources to learn from online right at our fingertips. Some of my favorite websites include GoHunt and onX Maps. They are great for learning about different areas to hunt as well as terrain. There are also local events such as the Washington Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup and the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Portland. Both of these events feature daily seminars from experts in the field sharing different information. Sportco in Fife, near Tacoma, also hosts a

COLUMN Big Game Hunting University annually in which they invite at least four big names in the hunting industry to share different tips and tactics. Today the opportunities and resources to learn about hunting are endless, so there’s no excuse not to dive in.

ONCE YOU’VE DECIDED that you want

Many of us are lucky to have a family member who got us into hunting, but for Kiley Brehm (middle right), a fishing trip with the author led to an invite to hunt with Anderson and his wife Kristina and her dad Maury. Brehm has bagged a couple nice bucks since then. (DAVE ANDERSON)

to take the plunge to become a hunter, there will be some steps you will have to take. First and foremost, no matter what state you live in, you will have to attend a hunter’s safety course to be able to purchase a hunting license and permit. In some states you can get a mentored hunting license, where you will have to be in the presence of another licensed hunter, but these are generally only good for one year. Before starting, be sure to check your state and local regulations. These can be found online through your state’s fish and game website or your local hunting pamphlet. Hunting pamphlets/ regulations can be picked up at most sporting goods stores. Once you have completed your hunter’s

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Northwest Sportsman 89

COLUMN safety course, received your certificate and purchased your license, there is so much more that has to be done before stepping foot in the field. First you need figure out the where, when, how and why. Do you have a friend or family member who has invited you to go? Or are you a first-time hunter who has a son or daughter who

also really wants to go and this is your first time? Are you going to hunt archery, muzzleloader or modern firearm? What unit should you aim for? What is a special permit or controlled hunt? What are points? What are draw odds and what the heck is a drawing? When looking at the hunting

In future columns Anderson will detail the steps to becoming a hunter, highlight regulations to be aware of, and cover the necessary gear and more, all with a goal of sharing “what I think it takes to be comfortable and successful in the hunting field.” (DAVE ANDERSON) 90 Northwest Sportsman


rules for the first time, it can be very overwhelming. All I can say is, do not get discouraged. Utilize the many resources we have available to us such as Google and GoHunt. I have mentored a few people in my life, inviting them to hunt with me and my core group of family/friends. My wife, who hunted with her dad growing up, just accompanied him until she met me. She went through hunter’s safety after meeting me and has taken multiple big game animals, including deer and elk. I recently had another friend of mine who I met on a fishing trip. I invited him to come hunt with us a few years ago and started teaching him the ropes. He ended up putting in his time and has harvested a couple of nice mule deer bucks. The moral of the story: Most of us will run across someone who has experience hunting or fishing. However, I will tell you that knowing someone who hunts is not a requirement or necessary to help you get started. It is all possible with a little research and studying. The information available to us today is 100 times more than what I ever had growing up. In addition, we live in a day and age where the hunting gear is so much better and so much of the guesswork is taken away. It is a very good time to get into hunting. I’m not saying it is easy, by any means. Hunting is hard, but that is definitely the driver and motivator for me. I love the challenge, as well as just being on the mountain, in nature, breathing in the fresh air. Hunting is my favorite activity and I love to share that time with family and friends. I probably take it a little more seriously than I should at times because my ultimate goal is to have the best protein on the planet at the end of the season. Over this next year, my goal is to highlight and detail all the different areas and steps to becoming a hunter. I will try to pinpoint the most important aspects of the regulations that you should be aware of. I will also cover topics such as gear, rifles, optics, packs, boots and much more. My goal is to share what I think it takes to be comfortable and successful in the hunting field. NS



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COLUMN New 2022 rifle offerings include Savage’s Model 110 Magpul Hunter (top) in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester, Benelli’s Lupo (lower middle) bolt-action in 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win. Magnum, and Franchi’s Momentum Elite (bottom) in .350 Legend and 6.5 PRC. There’s also a new Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 (upper middle) in 28-gauge and chambered for 3-inch shells. (PHOTOS BY MANUFACTURERS)

New For 2022: Rifles, Shotguns, More T

radition is a good thing, and midwinter always provides a look at new guns and gear for the coming year. This year ON TARGET is no different. By Dave Workman Despite all the troubles of 2021, the firearms and outdoors industry was busy, and we’re going to take a look at some of the new entries, covering lots of bases. Where to begin?

LET’S START WITH the new Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 in 28-gauge, 3-inch. Seems like every generation experiences what Benelli calls a “sub-gauge wave,” and this year is no different. The 28-gauge fever has been building for the past couple of years, and Benelli has responded with this bit of sweetness. The SBE3 comes with a selection of choke tubes, in finishes that include Realtree, Max-5, black synthetic, Mossy Oak Bottomland and Gore Optifade Timber. It

has a Crio-treated barrel and comes with a custom-fitted hard case. Optional features include extended Crio chokes, ComfortTech 3 recoil pads and raised comb pads. If rifles get your interest, the limitededition Benelli Lupo bolt-action features a Grade AA satin walnut stock, threaded 24-inch free-floating Crio barrel and adjustable trigger. Available in 6.5 Creedmoor (1:8 right-hand twist) and .300 Win. Magnum (1:11 right-hand twist), this rifle features a detachable box-type | FEBRUARY 2022

Northwest Sportsman 93

COLUMN magazine, two-piece Picatinny rail and weighs 7.1 pounds. From Franchi comes the Momentum Elite, now chambered in .350 Legend with a 22-inch barrel, and 6.5 PRC with a 24-inch barrel. The .350 Legend is offered with a True Timber Strata camo finish, while the 6.5 PRC has an Optifade Elevated II camo finish. It has a detachable box magazine, muzzle brake and one-piece Picatinny top rail.

Savage Arms is a name that’s been familiar on the American landscape for generations, and this year’s new entries include the Model 110 Magpul Hunter, featuring an 18-inch carbon-steel heavy barrel threaded for accessories. The barrel, receiver and bolt handle feature a Tungsten Cerakote finish, and it has a five-round AICS Magpul magazine. The receiver is drilled and tapped, and the

Magpul Hunter stock is upgraded with an aluminum bedding block. This model is available in right- or left-hand actions. Available this year in 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester, the 110 Magpul Hunter also features an adjustable AccuTrigger.

SAVAGE’S LATEST ENTRY into the handgun arena is the Stance, a Micro-Compact 9mm designed for concealed carry. It’s got

Author Dave Workman settles in behind a Savage 110 Prairie Hunter in .224 Valkyrie, “a warp-speed caliber capable of deadly long-range accuracy.” (DAVE WORKMAN)



here are still several weeks remaining in the Washington rabbit season, and right now is also the prime time to be popping coyotes, if that’s your pleasure. A couple of years ago, I had the chance to review a bolt-action Savage 110 Prairie Hunter in .224 Valkyrie, a warp-speed caliber capable of deadly long-range accuracy. Using a Federal factory load topped by a 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, my chronograph clocked that pill at 3,439 feet per second, which will dispatch any yodel dog I ever saw before it hears the muzzle blast. The rifle was superb, and I mounted a Harris bipod for shooting from a prone position.

94 Northwest Sportsman


Ammunition for the .224 Val is available with bullets weighing up to 90 grains, but for ’yotes I think the 60-grainers or a Federal Premium load pushing a 78-grain Barnes TSX is all the medicine one would need. All you need is for the coyote to pause just for an eye-blink and the velocity of that bullet would handle the rest. Incidentally, the Savage platform is one of the most consistently accurate I’ve ever encountered. Some years ago when I went shopping for a bolt-gun chambered in .308 Winchester, I settled on a Savage Model 14/114 American Classic with its AccuTrigger and three-position thumb safety. Having now whacked two or three bucks with that rifle, using handloads built from Nosler brass

and Ballistic Tip bullets, I doubt anyone could challenge my judgment. For coyotes, you want to use a projectile that leaves a very tiny hole and delivers massive damage to the vitals. Instant coyote heaven. If bunnies are your game, any decent rimfire will do, and I prefer one of two loads: a 40-grain lead roundnose, or a 36-grain copper-plated hollowpoint (I keep a good supply of Federals on hand). In my misspent youth, I took down several raccoons with .22 hollowpoints, and they’re feistier than a cottontail or snowshoe hare. Both of those rounds work reliably and accurately in my Ruger 10/22 or MK IV pistol. –DW

COLUMN a 3.2-inch stainless barrel, stainless steel slide with Melonite finish and wide slide serrations, two 18-degree interchangeable backstraps, and ambidextrous magazine release and slide stop. The Stance comes with two magazines (seven-, eight- or 10-round options are available), and models are available with ambidextrous safeties and night sights. There is also an option with

a Viridian E-Series red laser. Another Savage entry announced in mid-December is the Model 110 PCS (Pistol Chassis System), a bolt-action pistol with a medium-contour 10.5-inch barrel with threaded muzzle. It features a useradjustable AccuTrigger and Picatinny rail on the rear of the chassis. The PCS will accept most AR-15 pistol grips, and it has an ambidextrous magazine release. It is

The 9mm Taurus G3X. (TAURUS)

Stoeger STR-9SC SubCompact. (TAURUS)

also available in either 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester, plus .350 Legend, .300 BLK and .223 Remington. Stoeger is offering the STR-9SC SubCompact pistol in two versions, one that is ready for a compact optic. This striker-fired 9mm pistol has a 10-round magazine, black synthetic frame and nitride-finished slide. The standard version features three-dot sights and optional tritium night sights are available. It has a 3.54-inch barrel. The opticsready version has three-dot sights and four plates and a cover for optic mounting. Mossberg is offering the 590S Series of 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, with two versions. One has an 18.5-inch cylinder bore barrel with front bead sight and corncob forend, while the other has a 20-inch AccuChoke-compatible barrel with Ghost Ring sight and M-Lok-compatible forend. The 590S is built around the proven Model 500 action featuring nonbinding twin action bars, positive steel-to-steel lockup and 3-inch chamber. It has a redesigned anti-jam elevator and bolt slide. Another Mossberg entry is the 590S Shockwave pump-action model with a choice of 14.375- or 18.5-inch barrel lengths. The Shockwave has a front bead sight and corncob-style forend. There is more good news from Taurus, including a 9mm semiauto pistol and a 96 Northwest Sportsman


Northwest Sportsman 97


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98 Northwest Sportsman


revolver chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum. My experience with the latter cartridge found it to be a sizzler, with wonderful ballistics and stopping power in a .32-caliber platform. The 9mm Taurus G3X compact is a striker-fired model with two 15-round magazines. It features a synthetic frame with molded accessory rail at the front end below the muzzle. It has an external extractor, fixed front sight with white dot and dovetailed rear sight. Taurus says the G3X is compatible with the G3 and G3C T.O.R.O. slide kits. “The latter,” says Taurus, “is the perfect upgrade option for those who wish to install a red dot optic.” The wheelgun is a six-shooter with 2- or 3-inch barrel, and matte black or stainless finishes. This double/single-action revolver is versatile, as it will also chamber .32 H&R Magnum and .32 S&W Long ammunition. With fixed ramp front sight and exposed hammer, the Taurus 856 is fitted with a recoil-absorbing rubber grip. Rising in popularity among many single-action fans, Heritage is offering the Rough Rider TC (for “Tactical Cowboy”) and the Barkeep Boot models, both single-action rimfire models. The Rough Rider TC is chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. It has a 6.5-inch barrel, fixed fiber optic front sight, manual safety, Picatinny rail with rear sight notch, threaded barrel cut with a 1:14 right-hand twist, and carbon fiber grips. The frame and barrel have a black oxide finish, and the cylinder is made from alloy steel. It weighs a hefty 42 ounces. The Barkeep Boot has a custom wood birdshead grip, 1-inch barrel cut with a 1:10 right-hand twist and a black oxide finish. The model is also chambered for .22 LR, holds six rounds and does not have a front sight. There


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COLUMN is a manual safety on the left side of the frame next to the hammer. It comes with a wood ejector rod.

ROCK RIVER UNVEILED the new Operator Series of semiauto modern sporting rifles with two models, and new Californiacompliant models. There are four new Operator models, all with 16-inch barrels. Two feature .223 Wylde chambers, a third is chambered for the .308 Winchester and the fourth has a 5.56mm chamber. The two .223 Wylde models feature quad rail handguards, overmolded A2 grips, 30-round magazines, forged RRA lowers and A2 flash hider/muzzle brakes. The OP 2540 has an Ultra-Match trigger and NSP poly front/rear sights while the OP2545 has an RRA two-stage trigger and A2 front sight with swivel. The OP1000BT in .308 has an RRA twostage trigger, billet aluminum upper and lower, Hogue beavertail pistol grip, A2 flash hider/muzzle brake, 13-inch M-Lok

handguard and a 20-round magazine. Lastly, the 5.56 model features the RRA two-stage trigger with winter trigger guard, chrome-lined barrel, six-position NSP-2 stock, A2 flash hider/muzzle brake, M-Lok handguard and 30-round magazine.

THE GOOD FOLKS at Hornady have quite a few new entries in ammunition and bullets for reloading. This year, Hornady has introduced two new CX Monolithic Copper Alloy bullets, in 6mm/.243 weighing 80 grains and .375/250 grains. This bullet features a Heat Shield polymer tip and is California-compliant. Hornady’s new Outfitter ammunition comes in several popular calibers ranging from .243 Winchester to .375 H&H Magnum, with appropriate bullet weights. Each cartridge features a sealed primer and case mouth, and the cases are nickel-plated to resist corrosion. In the Hornady Custom ammunition family, there are two new entries, a 6.8 Remington SPC with a 100-grain bullet, and


a .300 Blackout with a 110-grain projectile. Superformance ammunition has added several new calibers with CX bullets including .223 Rem and 5.56mm NATO, both with a 55-grain pill; a 6mm Creedmoor and .25-06 with 90-grainers; a 6.5 Creedmoor with a 120-grain bullet; a .270 Winchester with a 130-grain projectile; a 7mm-08 with a 139-grainer; and loads in .308 Winchester, .30-06 Sprg. and .300 Win. Magnum, all with 165-grain bullets. There is also good news for handloaders from RCBS. Enter the ChargeMaster Supreme powder dispenser. If you want accurate, consistent powder charges, this could be the best addition to the reloading bench. According to RCBS, the ChargeMaster has a “proprietary learning mode” that uses a “unique feedback loop and algorithms to automatically adjust dispensing speeds and stop points.” The unit is Bluetooth-compatible, and it offers 0.1-grain accuracy. It has a 1,500-grain load cell capacity. NS

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Northwest Sportsman 101


Last Chance At The Doe-K Corral I

t was the last day of deer season for my son Jordan. His tag was only about four hours away from CHEF IN expiring, but we also THE WILD had four does in our By Randy King sights. We had glassed the deer from about a mile away. They were bedded on the

side of a shaded hill, so we chose our path carefully, watching the wind and the lines of sight the deer had. We eventually worked our way to about 300 yards away from the little herd, but it was still way too far for Jordan to shoot. His max range at the time was about 100 yards. As we crawled up the hill toward the deer, I kept encouraging him to stay silent and stay focused. This was

supposed to be fun; the nerves you feel are OK, I told him. We slowly, painfully gained ground on the deer. Then the herd morphed into a herd of 12 – a solid 24 eyeballs and dozen noses to work around. Not an easy task. As we crawled, the deer started to get nervous. And so did Jordan. The goal was to reach a purple bush in front of us. If we could get there, we would be in range. By the time

An antlerless mule deer looks out from a hiding spot in an Inland Northwest field. (CHAD ZOLLER) | FEBRUARY 2022

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he bacon renaissance of 20 years ago had an outsized effect on wild game cooking – think dove poppers, bacon-wrapped backstrap, bacon ground into hamburger meat, bear bacon. Culturally, bacon was all the rage too: bacon tattoos on chefs, bacon in drinks, bacon fat in deep fryers – bacon pop rocks, for God’s sake. It was no wonder that wild game food culture changed right along with the rest of the USA. Honestly, for a while there, if you tossed a stick you would hit an “I Love Bacon” bumper sticker. You name it, and someone was adding bacon to it. A restaurant in Boise even went so far as to simply name itself “Bacon.” Bacon became the duct tape of wild game cooking. Like bacon, duct tape is useful though usually not the longterm solution. But the combination of bacon and wild game cooking is totally understandable on the face of it. First off, bacon is delicious on its own, and for the most part, adding it to things does not hurt them. Secondly, bacon provides fat, which is usually negligible in wild game. Thirdly, and most controversially, bacon’s deliciousness and bold flavor is often used to hide “gamey” dishes. (Gamey-ness is a whole different topic that I’m leaving alone for now.) A classic example of this bacon overuse is bacon-wrapped duck breast. Skinned duck breast is very lean and overcooked duck can taste like liver, so disguise the liver flavor with bacon flavor. Even if the duck is way overcooked, the primary flavor of the dish is no longer duck, it’s bacon, and bacon does not suck. So, much like an unskilled plumber can “stop” a leak with duct tape, a less-skilled cook using bacon can still serve up a dish that will be “OK.” It might work, but it is not a good solution to the problem.

THIS FAR DOWN the bacon rabbit hole you might think I am an anti-bacon fascist. Far from it. As with all things, a pattern has formed in the application of bacon to dishes. This pattern fits the cyclical-linear pattern that modern historians often write about. The first cycle that bacon went through is “thesis” 104 Northwest Sportsman


– bacon exists and has some uses in cooking. Then came “antithesis” – bacon is overused and applied to everything. From that comes “synthesis” – a combination of the thesis and antithesis into a new form of bacon cooking. At this point in the progression, bacon is no longer so dominant in the culinary world, but it still has more uses than it did prior to the bacon renaissance. Several dishes that use bacon as a primary foil have stuck around and become classics (the new “thesis,” if you want to get technical). Think sweet heat bacon with maple syrup and chili flakes, a brunch staple and an absolutely banger of a dish. And consider maple bacon doughnuts – totally a product of the bacon renaissance and absolutely delicious. Another case in point is the recipe below. I have, over the years, poo-poohed the overapplication of bacon on dishes. But this one, this one right here, is just the perfect amount of bacon. Plus, it feeds a family of five.

BACON-WRAPPED MEATLOAF I learned a variation of this dish at a restaurant named Richard’s in Boise in the early 2000s. We would use lamb and the grind from fallow deer we purchased whole from a nearby farm. The shape of the meatloaf, when cooled, made the dish perfect for meatloaf sandwiches and other secondary applications. We would baste the outside of the meatloaf with apricot barbecue for extra flavor. Feel free to add your own spin. Just be careful not to create the next bacon craze! 8 slices bacon 1.5 pounds ground venison 1 tablespoon garlic, minced ¼ cup barbecue sauce, divided (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s) 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 egg ½ cup breadcrumbs Salt and pepper Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lay three 24-inch sheets of plastic film onto your

To create a bacon-wrapped meatloaf, first lay out three overlapping sheets of plastic wrap on the counter and place eight slices of bacon in a row on them. Form the meat-crumb-spice mix into a log, place it on the bacon and wrap the slices around the log. Wrap tightly in the plastic, roll the package to even the meat mix out and let cool in fridge for 15 minutes. Then remove the wrap, place the log in the oven and bake it. (RANDY KING) | FEBRUARY 2022

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Bacon-wrapped venison meatloaf served with baked potato. (RANDY KING) countertop, each overlapping by about 2 inches. Lay eight slices of bacon onto the plastic sheets (see photos last page). Combine the ground venison with half of the barbecue sauce and then the remaining ingredients. Form the mix into a “log” and place the log onto the bacon. Wrap the log with the bacon. With the bacon wrapped around the log, roll the plastic wrap tightly around the bacon/meat combination. Then grab each

end of the plastic and roll the meat across the counter until the plastic is tightly pressed against the meatloaf. The goal is to use the plastic to form the meat into a more uniform shape. This more uniform shape allows for pan-free cooking and more even baking. Put the meatloaf in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This will allow the meat to cool a bit and set up a little firmer for the cooking. After 15 minutes, place the meatloaf (with

the plastic wrap removed) on a cooking tray (or smoking rack) and baste in the remaining barbecue sauce. Cook for 35 minutes or until an internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf “rest” – sit on the counter before slicing – for five minutes. Serve with barbecue sauce and baked potato. For more wild game recipes, see –RK

we got to the bush, all but three of the deer had gone over the top of the hill. But we still had game in range. I dropped my pack and tried to settle the young hunter into a comfortable shooting position. It wasn’t easy but eventually we got him settled in. There was now just one doe left on the hill, a yearling with its head stuck in a bush. We are not picky in doe season. Jordan fussed about, adjusting his ear

plugs, and then broke a branch off a tree. The doe snorted, looked right at us, and busted out of the area. I watched the doe leave, then turned and looked at my son. He was clearly disappointed, but still shaking nonetheless. “Jordan, what is hunting all about?” I asked him. “Meat?” he said, deadpan. “And…,” I prompted. “Making memories with my family?” he

came back with. “And don’t ever forget it. You did not shoot because you were not comfortable with the shot. You did it exactly right. I wish more adults would do what you did. Next year, next year,” I said. Then I shouldered my pack and unchambered the shell in the gun. “Love you, Dad.” “Love you more…” NS

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COLUMN When it comes to retrieving ducks on water, educating your dog to not only negotiate decoys, but also jerk cords and anchor lines, is important. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

Training Dogs About Dekes W

ith a solid duck season behind us, waterfowlers in the Pacific Northwest are gearing up for late GUN DOGGIN’ 101 goose hunting. And with By Scott Haugen any form of waterfowl hunting comes the use of decoys. Getting a new dog used to decoys is important; even familiarizing them with sizes and numbers of changing spreads is a good idea, no matter how experienced they are. If you have a new pup, the process of

training it to work around decoys starts with familiarizing the dog with toys at 8 weeks of age, followed by soft bumpers, then hard bumpers as their adult teeth come in. This education will make for a smooth transition into decoy work.

WHEN INTRODUCING YOUR pup to decoys, start on land. Show them a decoy, string and weight. As soon as the pup takes interest in water, toss a couple decoys into a shallow place so they can wade and explore. If they bite a decoy, stop them and toss a bumper to the pup to redirect its attention.

Once the pup fetches the bumper a couple times, toss it past the decoys so the dog has to wade beyond them. Eventually you can add a few more decoys, then move to deeper water where the pup must swim through a small spread to get the bumper. Think of all the places you’ll potentially hunt over decoys, be it geese in coming weeks or next fall for ducks. Envision the spreads and riggings and how your dog will negotiate them. You may be hunting over decoys of various shapes, sizes and numbers, in shallow ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers, bays or an array of fields. You might have six duck | FEBRUARY 2022

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COLUMN Echo, author Scott Haugen’s 8-year-old pudelpointer, has been on hundreds of waterfowl hunts, but this was her first with magnum honker decoys in the spread. She was so distracted by the big shells that she didn’t focus on the hunt until Haugen took time to familiarize her with them. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

decoys in a small ditch, or 75 dozen goose decoys tightly packed in a green grassy field. Whatever the situation, prepare your dog to confidently retrieve in the decoys. Of course, there’s no need to put out 75 dozen cackler or snow goose windsock decoys just to train your dog; a dozen will do. Tightly position them and walk your pup through the decoys with a bumper in its mouth. Toss bumpers around and into the spread so the dog has to run through the decoys, making contact with them. As the retrieves progress, switch to a duck dummy, then a goose dummy as your pup grows. You might strap wings to the dummy so there are moving parts to make it realistic.

THE MORE FAMILIAR your dog gets with swimming around and through several types of decoys, the better. As you’ll quickly discover, the priority is not to differentiate a decoy from a bird (or bumper), because dogs are smart and quickly make that distinction. What you want is the pup to get used to chasing ducks around decoys, where tangles are possible.

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COLUMN Last season I hunted a shallow pond and dropped a pair of wigeon in the decoys. My female dog, Echo, got right on the dead bird. The other cottontop kept diving amid a series of floaters I had lashed to a jerk cord. My male dog, Kona, got a back foot tangled in the cord. Fortunately he could stand and keep his head above water, so I whoaed him and quickly waded out. The string was so tightly wound around his foot and toes that I had to cut the line. That night I replaced my thin jerk cord with a stiff one that wouldn’t tangle. To create movement in my spreads I have multiple jerk cords running from the blind, as motorized decoys are forbidden in many places I hunt. Make sure such lines are elevated for your dog to enter the water without getting tangled. When on the retrieve, you might have to raise the cord for your dog to swim under, or add a slip-weight to the line so it sinks deep enough for your dog to swim over. If using wind-aided decoys, mechanical decoys, flags, even socks that move in a

breeze, introduce them to your pup before the hunt. Make sure they know how these decoys move and sound, as this will keep them focused on approaching birds, allowing them to mark and achieve solid retrieves. Doing some prehunt bumper work around motorized decoys (where legal) that throw water isn’t a bad idea.

ONE OF THE best times to familiarize your pup with decoys is on the actual hunt. When setting decoys, have the pup walk or briefly swim by your side so it learns what’s happening. Keep it fun and encourage the dog, remembering this is new to them. Once the decoys are set, take time to walk or swim the pup through the spread. When there’s a lull, give it a bird and have it swim or walk through the decoys with it, offering encouragement; you can even toss it or place it for a retrieve. A buddy always takes a bumper to toss into the decoys for his dog during days when birds aren’t flying. I remember Kona’s first hunt in a spread of over 60 dozen decoys. Once all the

silhouette, sock and full-body goose decoys were set on the edge of a field, along with dozens of floating, moving and silhouette duck decoys on a flooded creek, I walked him through the spread before shooting time. Once Kona got familiar with the spread, he calmed down and it was all business. With the late goose season upon us, anticipate what surprises your pup may encounter when hunting in different decoy spreads, then prepare accordingly. If planning on getting a pup this spring, it’s also never too soon to think about next season’s hunting situations. The more hunts you go on and the more time you devote to training, the more familiar your dog will be when hunting around various decoy spreads, thus the more focused they’ll be on marking and retrieving birds. NS Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is a waterfowl hunter of 47 years and a full-time writer. Learn more about his many books at and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.



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FISHING An angler prepares to release a sea-run cutthroat back into the depths of a Puget Sound bay. The anadromous species provides a good winter fishery in shallow waters at the south end of the inland sea, shifting northward later in the year. (BRIAN BENNETT)

The 411 On SRCs Saltwater cutts prowl Puget Sound’s beaches, providing a good fishery at a slower time of year. By Mark Yuasa, WDFW


estled in the fertile marine waterways of southern Puget Sound are a myriad of bays, inlets, estuaries and beaches. Within these confines, the searun cutthroat trout is a fish species often overlooked, but as other winter saltwater opportunities dwindle, anglers have taken notice of this exciting fishery. According to the Coastal Cutthroat

Coalition, a nonprofit organization, sport fishing for sea-run cutthroat in Washington generates more than 20,000 angler trips and roughly $1.1 million in economic value annually. In the 1980s, sea-run populations began to decline, and became a catchand-release-only fishery in the mid1990s. Their numbers and average size (10 to 15 inches, with some more than 20 inches long) since then have gradually seen an improvement. “There are likely more anglers

targeting them than in the past, but with the catch-and-release-only regulation in all of Puget Sound, the population appears to be relatively stable,” says Larry Phillips, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional director and avid saltwater fly angler. “I think everyone who fishes for sea-run cutthroat trout for a long time thinks they’re special. A nice thing about southern Puget Sound is there’s cutthroat around 12 months out of the year.” | FEBRUARY 2022

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“If you don’t see the bottom, you’re probably too deep,” tips SRC guide Keith Robbins, who says to target shorelines with baseball-sized cobble and small freshwater trickles. (WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY)

DESPITE A MYRIAD of places to fish in Puget Sound – especially the southern portion that has 1,000 miles of shoreline – an angler willing to do some research and exploration should find this fishery much to their liking. “The fishery is definitely humbling to the beginner, but each time you go out you learn something new,” Phillips says. “It is important to continue to learn about their tendencies, tidal influences and at what time of the year they’ll be in a certain area. Cutthroat are loyal to specific locations, and it is shocking how many stay in a small area for much of their lives.” What makes chasing these colorful fish in Puget Sound even more intriguing is the fact that they 124 Northwest Sportsman


often lurk within an easy cast from shore, where abundant small baitfish and other prey congregate. Fishing in marine waterways is often tied directly to tides rather than being out on the water at the crack of dawn. However, one needs to keep in mind that a given location’s tide can fluctuate from another location, so the time part of the equation cannot be totally thrown out the window. Usually, a strong minus outgoing tide will scatter baitfish and krill, as well as the cutthroat. It isn’t unusual in Deep South Sound to find an outgoing tide moving like a river at 5 to 6 knots. On the other hand, a softer outgoing tide will keep the feed holding in certain places much

longer, allowing cutthroat to forage throughout the day. Look for places where the current runs parallel to shore and creates an eddy in the lee between a point of land and rip current. It is in this calm water where small baitfish get trapped or hide. As the tide shifts, be sure to move to the other side of the point until slack water. Cutthroat often lurk near places with rocky bottoms, eelgrass (not prevalent in the winter time) and oyster beds, often within sight of a stream or river mouth. The best time to fish is just before or soon after flood tide. “Ideally what you tend to look for are rocky beaches with baseball- and softball-size gravel, or where trickles

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FISHING of freshwater come into the salt,” says Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide (seattlefishingcharter. com) and an avid cutthroat fly angler. Wind, depth, water clarity and being a bit stealthy also play a factor in success. “If you don’t see the bottom, you’re probably too deep,” Robbins

tips. “In most cases, the deepest you want to be is 15 to 20 feet.” Since cutthroat stay in shallow water, be mindful when wading that you aren’t splashing about. This can spook fish away and out of casting range. It is wise to also cast your line before stepping into the water, as sometimes they’ll grab your presentation in water

CUTTHROAT TIDBITS • Be sure to visit the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition website – coastalcutthroatcoalition .com – where you can find a wealth of in-depth research conducted by WDFW biologists and other fisheries specialists. • Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle, is conducting a Saltwater Fly Fishing in Puget Sound seminar that covers sea-run cutthroat fly fishing at the Seattle Boat Show on February 11 at 3 p.m. For details, go to seattleboatshow .com/seminars. • The International Fly-Fishing Film Festival and Fundraiser, benefitting Coastal Cutthroat Coalition research, is March 10 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.) at Hula Hula, 1501 East Olive Way in Seattle. The last time this event was held before Covid, it raised 73 percent of the cutthroat research budget for 2020. For tickets, go to For info about this screening, contact Robbins at –MY

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as shallow as 6 inches. Another hypothesis is the food chain effect, which posits that when chum and/or pink salmon fry are plentiful, productivity increases for cutthroat.

IT IS OFTEN hard to gather specifics on places to fish, especially since many anglers stay tight-lipped about their favorite spots. But the shorelines in the Tacoma/ Narrows area, Lincoln Park south of West Seattle, Redondo Beach, Golden Gardens near Ballard, Carkeek Park/ Richmond Beach, Meadowdale Beach and Picnic Point all provide many fishermen places to cast a line without needing to drive very far. Robbins points out that winter and spring are best in southern Puget Sound, while places in central and northern Puget Sound are better in summer and fall. There’s also an advantage to fishing from a boat or small skiff. This enables | FEBRUARY 2022

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FISHING A display case holds a pair of sea-runs. Fed by a diet of baitfish that can be matched with flies, spinners and spoons alike, many of these fish run 10 to 15 inches, but a few push past 20 inches. All must be released. (KEITH ROBBINS)

you to get to shorelines inaccessible from land. A small cartopper or kayak provides that flexibility and makes it easy to load up and jump to another spot in a jiffy. Set your boat up so that you drift right into prime fishing areas (having oars or an electric trolling motor is a bonus), but know that this requires patience and time to learn. Avoid grounding your boat or getting hung up on an unseen boulder in shallow water. “I call the skeg of my main engine a curb feeler,” Robbins says. “You should leave the engine all the way down so the skeg hits before the hull when you’re drifting in very shallow water.” While fishing with multiple people, keep the boat parallel to the shoreline. This way you can utilize as much space in the boat as possible without getting into each other’s way. A pair of polarized sunglasses is a must, whether you’re fishing from

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FISHING shore or a boat, and allows you to clearly see the bottom and spot fish. Many keep a diary or log with details of their trips in order to raise the bar of success. While the focus of this column is on sea-run cutthroat, don’t be surprised if you hook into a feisty resident coho. Their populations have improved, with late winter and spring being the best period.

NOW THAT WE’VE nailed down those details, you might be asking what type of gear to throw in their face. Generally, a cutthroat isn’t very picky, whether it’s a certain type of fly or lure, but try to understand what they’re feeding on. Match what they’re feeding on – marine life like herring, candlefish, crabs, sculpin, salmon fry, sand shrimp, worms, and euphausiids and amphipods (zooplankton). Two of the top fly choices are a marabou Clouser Minnow and a

Muddler, but poppers and floating baitfish patterns can also be quite effective. Poppers put on a good show, as many cutthroat will explode out of the water when they hit them, but they have a low hook-up ratio too. Small spoons like a Dick Nite weighing 1/4 to 1/8 ounce and spinners like a Rooster Tail in a size 2 or 3 can entice a territorial cutthroat to bite. Lure color is up to you, although darks are good in sunny or clear water conditions, while brights work well in cloudy water or around covered areas. Keep in mind that barbless hooks are required for all marine sportfishing in Puget Sound. Bait can be used but most anglers shy away from it since it’s a catchand-release fishery and fish will inhale baits much deeper, leading to increased mortality. A typical fly rod for the fishery would be an 8- to 9-foot five- or six-

weight with a faster action, but it’s not to say someone couldn’t go to a lighter rod. Choose a reel with a sealed drag used for saltwater. The choices are varied, so if unsure check with a local fly shop. The type of line plays an important role and it’s best to keep a couple reels filled with sinking lines in various sink rates, and another set up with a floating line. Sea-run cutthroat are anadromous trout that are born in rivers, migrate to saltwater areas and then return to spawn in their natal stream. After they spawn, adult fish will head back out into the intertidal areas of Puget Sound and Hood Canal. NS Editor’s note: This story was written by Mark Yuasa, who is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Communications Consultant, and is a longtime local fishing and outdoor writer.


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Long Beach is arguably the best family getaway spot on the Washington Coast, and it’s a fantastic place to retreat in February for snow-weary Northwesterners or anyone looking for a getaway and a break from the drudgery of winter. In February and in any month out of the year, the Long Beach Peninsula – which stretches 28 miles between Cape Disappointment and Point Leadbetter – offers extremely accessible and lucrative seafood gathering opportunities. (JEFF HOLMES)

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No Disappointments Here Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is known for its ample razor clam ops, but there’s lots more winter shellfishing and family fun to be had in the area. By Jeff Holmes


abin fever and late winter – the struggle is real for most of us. Sportsmen and -women feel it, and so do our families. But whereas there are always lots of options year-round for Pacific Northwest sportsmen to get outside and escape cabin fever, fewer options exist where we can reasonably involve our more fair-weather friends and family in outdoor pursuits. The

Long Beach Peninsula and its 28 miles of driveable beach is probably the single best place to take a family or a date for a Northwest outdoor vacation getaway in February. Home to amazing restaurants, lots of shops and attractions, and unrivaled beach access, Long Beach is Washington’s biggest and most popular razor clam beach. Razor clamming is the easiest, most fun, and most inclusive extractive outdoor activity in Washington. If you’ve been, you know what I mean;

if you have not, you should fix that. Options don’t stop at razors when it comes to Long Beach Peninsula seafood gathering, either. On a recent trip in late December, we spent one morning crabbing, one evening clam digging, and one evening oyster shucking. In total three of us gathered 36 Dungeness crabs, 54 oysters and 60 razor clams. We barely tried to gather seafood and left for home in Tri-Cities with a huge bounty. And that was after we | FEBRUARY 2022

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Guide Evan Lafky and his dog Hazel were excellent hosts as we collected limits of big purple-backed beauties like this Dungeness. Crabbing seats at the mouth of the Columbia more than pay for themselves. We stuffed ourselves on crab mac and cheese and crab and butter back at our condo at the Breakers in Long Beach and then enjoyed and shared crab for days. (JEFF HOLMES)



he mouth of the Columbia River is one of the finest Dungeness crabbing locations in the world and is a very short and pleasant drive from Long Beach. It offers an extremely lucrative seafood gathering opportunity that many razor clammers overlook. Probably the peak of crabbing is September through December, coinciding with fall razor clam digs in Washington, but crabbing continues to be good throughout February. Some salmon and sturgeon guides run winter crabbing trips as weather allows, including Bill Monroe Jr. of Bill Monroe Outdoors (503-702-4028) and Evan Lafky of Evan Lafky Guide Service (503-3499173). These trips include cooking your crab and salted commercial ice to pack them in for travel. Buying a seat beats the heck out of dragging a boat and running

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pots and bait. Crabbers are allowed generous limits of 12 per day, per person, whether you launch on the Oregon side in Astoria or on the Long Beach Peninsula’s southern end at the Port of Ilwaco. When I saw just before Christmas that crabbing was automatic for fast limits, I did the math and my traveling companions and I could go home from a razor dig with 36 cooked crabs for $125 each, plus tip. Lafky is fun to fish with, so I figured the same would be true for crabs. I bought three seats and planned a morning of crabbing prior to an afternoon clam dig in front of our rented condo at The Breakers in Long Beach. Lafky is an ICU nurse and calm and reasoned voice in the wastelands of outdoors social media. He fishes salmon, steelhead and sturgeon from Portland to Astoria and is the kind of captain a wide

variety of folks like to fish with, in part because of his tiny female blue heeler, Hazel, who loves to haul crab pots. We had a great time aboard pulling pots with two other clients, Tim and Glenda from Eugene, and we easily put together 12-crab limits for five of us in an about an hour. Most of the crab were very full of meat, and some were quite large. Lafky arranged to have our crabs boiled and cooled and packed in ice once back at the dock. The whole process – from launching to driving away with a cooler full of 36 cooked crabs – took two hours, 15 minutes. I highly recommend one of these Columbia River crabbing trips, whether this February with Lafky, or next season. Lafky, Monroe and many of the Buoy 10 fishing guides run crab pots in the late summer, fall and into winter. –JH



here are three really good pieces of news when it comes to getting started razor clamming at Long Beach, or anywhere these tasty bivalves live in Washington: 1) WDFW maybe doesn’t do anything better than it manages razor clams; 2) razor clamming is really easy to be successful at and really fun; 3) and there are 11 dig days scheduled for February and many more to come throughout the end of winter and well into spring. Washington’s razor clams are big and they are numerous. After a couple of years of closed harvest due to high domoic acid levels – which the state Department of Health tests for before every dig – clam stocks are high and conditions are excellent. There is no natural bounty in the Evergreen State that is so easy to procure, so delicious, and so available to people of all ages and fitness and ability levels. Many a seasoned razor clammer (writer

raises his hand) has learned how to dig razor clams through a combination of using WDFW’s comprehensive and extremely useful online razor clam info and trial and error on the beach. WDFW has for years provided the most comprehensive and useful online resources on the internet for everything from understanding regulations to digging techniques to finding clams to cooking them. Pulling 15 of these big, briny, rich-tasting clams out of the sand is not hard, and you can literally just go do it, with the proper licensing, of course.

GETTING STARTED In Washington, digs are scheduled in advance around the low tides that reveal razor clam beds and avail them to diggers. In the winter, the digs are on evening tides. While some dig by lantern light on these evening digs, in most cases it’s possible to hit the beach early, just before dark, and get limits. It’s

Kids love Long Beach. Razor clamming is super interactive and engaging for kids and the peninsula’s restaurants, hotels and businesses all cater toward their interests. My 7-year-old friend told me to tell readers who have kids that clamming was way more fun than she thought it would be and that they must take their kids to the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame in Long Beach and check out the upstairs. (JEFF HOLMES)

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also possible to dig in the dark, and the indirect light of a lantern is typically best for spotting the little dimples in the sand called “shows.” Extracting a clam from the sand without breaking its shell takes a little practice but isn’t hard. And it’s not a disaster if you break a shell, but you must retain those clams and should clean them sooner than unbroken ones. There is debate about whether to use a clam shovel or a clam gun, but for beginners the choice is obvious unless you’re being directly instructed by a clam shovel expert. A clam gun is a PVC or metal tube about 6 inches in diameter and with a handle and an air release hole. It’s your best choice. The Dennis Company in Long Beach and Jack’s Country Store further up the peninsula in Ocean Park stock plenty. The stainless steel ones are spendy but worth it, but cheapo PVC clam guns turn up limits, too. Along with a clam gun (or a clam shovel), it’s a good idea to buy one of the mesh clam bags that clip onto your waist, but you will see plenty of diggers with buckets and other less-than-ideal clam-holding receptacles. Once on the beach, head toward the surf, watching the beach closely for shows, which is where a clam’s siphon spits water from the saturated beach sand upward. Watching other diggers’ efforts helps, especially if you see them producing clams. Be careful anytime you turn your back to the ocean, especially in winter when sneaker waves are far more common, but one must sensibly achieve this to be in prime position for extracting a clam. Face dry land and center your clam gun on a show with the handle tipped slightly back and gun at a slight angle. Push and twist the gun to dig it deep into the sand, stopping if you feel or hear crunching. Repositioning and feathering the gun downward usually helps to recenter the clam for extraction. Once the gun is as deep as it will go, put your finger over the air hole in the handle and lift with the legs to extract a tube of sand. If the clam isn’t in the tube, it’s in the hole. Time to hit the deck and dig in the sand like you were a kid. The clams are surprisingly fast, and digging them out of the holes by hand when needed is really fun. –JH | FEBRUARY 2022

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Riches of Dungeness crabs like this haul are common place for some, but to inlander rubes like us, this was a dream come true. (JEFF HOLMES)

lounged around, ate at restaurants, and stuffed ourselves on crab and fried razor clams in the condo we rented at The Breakers Hotel and Suites in Long Beach. Winter seafood gathering here is unrivaled in the Northwest, and it is excellent in spring, summer and fall as well. The Port of Ilwaco is a big part of that, which Northwest Sportsman will feature this summer, but not in winter. February options do not require crossing the treacherous Columbia River Bar. They involve digging in the sand, shucking in the mud, and pulling pots in the Columbia estuary, all of which are very fun. Year-round the Long Beach Peninsula offers a bounty of seafood, fun stuff to do, really good food and more, but camping is not advisable in winter. This advice comes from a fourseason camper. A warm, comfortable place to get out of clam and rain gear and to relax and cook seafood is important – or at least a place to get warm and cleaned up for Long Beach’s many excellent restaurants and attractions. Lodging here has received



have always wanted to gather and shuck oysters in Willapa Bay before or after one of the razor clam digs, so through mutual friends I sought out Bill Derion of Long Beach. Derion is the owner of the highly reviewed Mermaid Inn and RV Park and is also commissioner at the Port of Peninsula, a small port on the east side of the peninsula in Willapa Bay. He’s a dialed-in outdoorsman and a new six-pack charter operator out of Ilwaco. He and his friends agreed to meet us in the rain and the dark after a razor clam dig to shuck limits (18 each). The surf side of the peninsula is home to some of the world’s best razor clam digging, and the protected waters of the bay where we met Derion are ideal for oysters. Undefeated even after hearing the odds of finding a pearl, my 7-year-old

138 Northwest Sportsman


friend Mila donned too-big-for-her waders to trudge into the dark with us in search of treasure. We followed Derion and his friends, a couple from Vancouver, through the mud flats in the dark about 150 yards until Derion said to stop and start gathering. Shining our headlamps into the mud, we saw that there were oysters everywhere, and we quickly filled up buckets with them until we all had roughly 18. Per Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife rules, they must be shucked below tide line, so we started stabbing shucking knives into shells, extracting the beautiful little oysters, and repeating. Derion shucked fast, and I watched his friend try to keep up. Whereas Derion did not stab himself gruesomely in the palm with the oddly long and sharp oyster knife, his friend did. He poured beer on it and

headed for the first aid kit at the truck. Meanwhile, we finished our shucking. I don’t know if it was because they were prized Willapa Bay oysters or if they were just fresher than I’ve ever had, but those little oysters were as tasty and firm as I’ve ever had. There are many places in Willapa Bay where the public can gather oysters, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a very effective and comprehensive mapping tool and search function to identify public clam, mussel and oyster beaches ( Although I was stoked to meet Derion and plan to fish keeper sturgeon with him this summer on another trip to Long Beach, I could have found this beach easily online. I plan to investigate more oyster beaches in Willapa Bay on my next trip to Long Beach. –JH

You never know what you’ll find washed up on Long Beach, even a 43-foot humpback whale. As we watched the tide wash over the carcass and retreat back to the ocean, it was easy to see why throughout history the decomposing carcasses of whales swirling in the tide have been mistaken for all manner of sea monsters. (JEFF HOLMES)

tons of reliable reviews on TripAdvisor and Google. For wintertime seafood gathering trips where there are likely to be passing storms and more time spent inside than in spring, summer or fall, renting a condo or a big room is desirable. The Breakers Hotel and Suites in Long Beach is my favorite place to stay for these types of trips. It offers an easy and beautiful path to a prime razor clam beach, has a big pool that kids love and is across the street from one of Long Beach’s best restaurants, The Cove, which offers great dining, serves prime rib and amazing chowder and does a great job with kids. The peninsula’s small communities are known for their excellent dining, like really excellent. Breakfast places abound, but a staple and my favorite breakfast/brunch place in Washington 140 Northwest Sportsman


is 42nd Street Café, which also serves dinner. They do amazing breakfast drinks and gourmet breakfasts with great portions. For lunch, I recently had a great experience on the waterfront in Ilwaco at Salt Hotel and Pub. Their fresh ingredients hit the spot after a morning of crabbing. For dinner, along with The Cove, I recommend the Depot in Seaview, which is one of the finest restaurants I’ve ever been to. Their reviews precede them. Along with seafood and great dining, other February attractions include the Discovery Trail, Cape Disappointment State Park and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, three museums, touring Oysterville and Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, beachcombing, and birdwatching on the beach as huge

numbers of wintering shorebirds converge on Long Beach. There are many reasons to visit Long Beach, and many more reasons to get out of your house this February. There’s almost never snow here, it’s usually 15 to 20 degrees warmer than east of the Cascades, and the ocean is a much more soothing sight, sound and smell than your HVAC system can offer. If you get out of the house and head to Long Beach this winter and also throughout the spring razor clam digs, I guarantee you’ll be glad you did. NS Editor’s note: For more info, contact the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau (360-642-2400; visitlongbeachpeninsula .com), located at the intersection of Highways 101 and 103 in Seaview.



Add Methods To Steelhead Repertoire An angler fishes a drift on an Olympic Peninsula river. Having multiple methods in your steelheading tactics quiver will help up your odds of success “when water conditions are different than you are used to or when fish are around but mostly not biting,” counsels author Buzz Ramsey. (BOB TOMAN)


iven the r i g h t fishing method and water conditions, and despite their elusive reputation, winter BUZZ RAMSEY steelhead can be pretty easy to catch. After all, think about the last time you visited your favorite river and hooked up on the first or second cast – that was no accident. For most seasoned steelheaders, success is about mastering more than one fishing method and understanding which technique to use based on the available water conditions.

Favored tactics might vary depending on whether you are fishing from a boat or the bank. Most anglers would agree that fish don’t always respond to the first thing thrown at them. For example, I’ve had days when steelhead would refuse a plug back-trolled through a run under what I considered ideal water conditions, bite a Lil’ Corky before a bait of eggs, only respond to one jig size and in only one color, as well as the opposite of my above examples. This all points to one truth: Steelhead can be aggressive first-cast biters, non-biters or finicky about what they will or won’t respond to. If you have just one old faithful go-to fishing method, you’ll likely up your odds of

success by adding another technique to your repertoire, especially when water conditions are different than you are used to or when fish are around but mostly not biting. For the bank-bound angler, this might mean carrying two or three rods with you, each rigged for different methods so you can try each before visiting another spot. Likewise, a set of rods prerigged for the methods most likely to produce, based on water conditions, might be the ticket to success if you are fishing from a drift or jet boat.

BOBBER DOGGIN’ If not already part of your repertoire, bobber doggin’ is a fishing method you | FEBRUARY 2022

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Spinning rod and reel outfits have really taken over the steelheading scene over the last 20 or so years, especially for methods involving bobbers as well as side drifting. (BUZZ RAMSEY) should consider learning. This method can be done from shore or a boat and works well in a pretty wide range of water conditions. It’s different than float fishing in that with this method you want your weight and trailing bait to be bouncing bottom and your bobber used as a strike indicator, while the bobber’s drag also helps move your outfit downstream. To rig up for bobber doggin’, thread a free-sliding bobber onto your main line above your sinker. A bead and bobber stop are used to keep your bobber 6 to 10 feet (position depends on water depth) above your weight when drifting down the river. The advantage of having your bobber rigged to slide is it will be positioned just above your weight for casting but slide up your main line after your outfit hits the water. As such, your bobber – especially if it’s a long one – will be riding along in an angled fashion. The bobber keeps your 144 Northwest Sportsman


offering near the bottom where steelhead hold and your outfit drifting straight downriver. In addition, the upward pull of the bobber helps keep your weight from hanging on bottom structure. You will quickly discover that this method does not require as much weight as compared to drift fishing. That’s because much of your main line is on or above the water, so you are not fighting the line belly associated with drift fishing. In addition, bobber doggin’ offers a more realistic “drift” presentation, because your bobber is pulling your outfit straight downriver, which can result in more bites and subsequent hookups. Here’s how: Cast out, across and upstream using enough weight so it and your trailing bait will sink to the bottom and drift along slightly slower than the surface current. Because your bobber will keep your outfit drifting straight down the river – providing you leave several feet of

line floating on the surface ahead of your bobber – your outfit will not swing in near shore as it drifts downriver, like it would drift fishing from the bank. While you want several feet of line running downriver ahead of your bobber to keep it riding in line with the current, you may have to mend excess line upriver so that you can set the hook if and when a fish bites your setup and pulls your bobber under. If fishing from a stationary position, you will need to reel in and cast again once your drift is complete. If you are fishing from a boat, you can extend your drift the full length of the hole by simply adjusting your downstream boat speed to match that of your bobber(s). Many boaters like to keep their craft floating even with or slightly ahead of their bobber(s), as doing so might help achieve a better hookset. Most guides encourage their clients to reel down and set the hook if and when


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A bobber doggin’ setup includes a freesliding float with a bobber stop (not shown) up the line from it, along with a Dave’s Sinker and 48-inch leader to a size 1 hook and bait of eggs, also outside the frame. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Fishing a float with a jig suspended below it is similar to bobber doggin’ in that you cast out, across and slightly upstream, pick up any slack line, and allow your float and the jig suspended below it to drift through the holding water. But unlike bobber doggin’, you do not want your jig or other offering to bounce bottom. Your drift is complete when your outfit nears the tailout, jig begins to hit bottom, or you cannot eliminate line drag by mending, which is when you’ll need to reel in and cast again. Float fishing is a series of casts, drifts and retrieves. Because you’re fishing with your eyes rather than by feel, you’ll need to keep tabs on your bobber at all times and set the hook if and when your bobber disappears. Realize that most steelhead will be found in water 4 to 8 feet deep. As such, you want to position your jig half to three-quarters of the way to the bottom – a couple of feet above these bottom-

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COLUMN When fishing a float, the presentation differs from bobber doggin’. In the former method it’s important to rig your jig under your float such that it rides horizontal in the water. In addition, you want your float to run threequarters submerged. In this rigging example, a ¼-ounce float is balanced with a smaller sized (1/8- to 1/32-ounce) jig with a split shot added so that the float will ride correctly. Colored line was used for the photograph, but the leader material should be fluorocarbon for its low visibility. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Soft beads, as they are mostly referred to, are egg imitations that have gained popularity with anglers using the methods discussed here. Regardless of tactic, most anglers thread their bead onto their leader and hold it a few inches above their hook with a T-stop. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

hugging fish is a good place to start. In all cases, a drag-free drift with your float moving at or a bit slower than the river current is critical to success. If you’re fishing a current edge – that is, where slack and moving water meet – on the near side of the river, you should have no problem with line drag. It may be a different story if you’re casting out into a hole or drift where the current, especially a strong one, can grab your main line the moment it hits the water surface and push it downstream faster than your float is moving. One way to reduce or momentarily eliminate line belly and its effect on maintaining a natural drift is to mend your line. Line mending is something fly anglers do, for the same reason: to prevent their fly from skating downstream too fast. To mend your line, start with your rod at a low angle and pointed at your float. Then progressively pull your rod up and backward (toward you), while rolling your 150 Northwest Sportsman


line upstream with your rod tip. When you mend, it’s important to do so aggressively enough that your main line will be tossed upstream all the way to your float. Given a strong current, you may have to mend your line several times during a single drift. Casting out at a slight downstream angle and feeding line off your reel fast enough that your bobber won’t be overcome by line drag can reduce or eliminate the effects of line belly on your bobber. If you’re a boater, you can cast out to the side or at a 45-degree angle downstream too, but you may find better success and eliminate all line drag by anchoring above the area you intend to fish and maneuver your setup directly downstream from your craft. A bobber and jig is the most effective when rivers are running clear. In addition, this method excels in slow-moving water and can be unbelievably effective for fishing current edges, a place steelhead

often seek.

SIDE DRIFTING In the simplest of terms, side drifting is using a boat to extend the distance your weight and trailing bait drift along the bottom to include the full length of a hole and in the most natural way possible. I’ve found this method to be the most effective when rivers are of a medium height and clearing. When side drifting, you cast out, across and upstream from a moving boat with the goal of then maneuvering your craft downstream ahead of or even with your drifting lines. Because your boat is constantly moving at the same speed as your outfit, little or no line belly develops. By keeping the boat at or just downstream from and moving at the same speed as your bait, very little weight is needed to keep your offering close to the bottom. You’re not looking for a

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COLUMN steady tapping of the river bottom here; within a foot or so of the bottom with an occasional tap is plenty good. Some anglers, depending on river height, will use a single split shot; many employ a short slinky-type sinker consisting of three to six shot, or a Dave’s Tangle Free sinker, which is the correct amount of weight for this fishing method. With side drifting, the feel of a steelhead taking your bait will be the same as when getting hung on the bottom. However, there is no big yank necessary as compared to drift fishing; instead, just wait and watch your rod tip until it starts to throb and then pull back slowly and firmly. After all, how can a fish throw your hook when there is little or no line belly and you are fishing from a boat drifting faster than a steelhead can back up? The boat is more than simply a casting platform; to perform this method correctly, its operator must keep the boat moving. Each angler and their guide (or friend) must fish in a very coordinated way for this

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method to be successful. For example, the boat should already be moving downstream as anglers parallel cast across and upstream of their craft. Having each angler spooled with the same pound test (diameter) line, combined with the same size weight and bait, will go a long way in ensuring that each line drifts at the same speed. Your success is enhanced by the use of a thin-diameter line. Thinner lines, upon which the river current will have less influence, contribute to the ability of your outfit to move along naturally in the current. Ten-pound-test monofilament or thin yet strong 20- to 30-pound-test super braid is far and away the most popular for this fishing method. Bait consists of a thumbnail-size egg cluster threaded on a size 1, 2 or 4 single hook tied with an egg-loop knot. To add color and a slight amount of buoyancy to the offering, which may reduce hangups, many anglers will spear their already egg-clusterbaited hook through a small Styrofoam Puffball (sometimes called drift balls).

Another popular rig is to use a double hook outfit in combination with a size 12 Lil’ Corky sandwiched between two size 4 single hooks. A bead or Soft Bead can be used too and usually positioned a couple of inches above the hook via a T-stop. Leader lengths average 30 to 50 inches; the clearer the water, the longer the leader. Anglers who excel at side drifting are those who can cast accurately and leave – I repeat, leave – a little slack in their line. Doing so allows for a more natural drift, enabling the current to direct your bait to where fish hold. After all, fish naturally position themselves where it’s easy treading and the current will funnel feed (in this case your bait) to them. NS Editor’s note: Buzz Ramsey is regarded as a trout, steelhead and salmon sport fishing authority and proficient lure and fishing rod designer. He has been honored into the Hall of Fame for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and the national Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.






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Options For Washington Winter-runs J

ust as winter steelhead fishing was getting underway a few months ago, those who work Western NW PURSUITS Washington waters By Jason Brooks got the news that the Department of Fish and Wildlife was closing down most coastal river systems. Many of the most popular and prestigious rivers are a “no go.” Like most I put my steelhead gear away and wrote off the season. But as February arrives it is hard to think of those rods and reels just sitting there collecting dust. After all, this is one of the best months for late-timed hatchery fish. Looking at the regulations, you can find other options. Most of the fish are returning to rivers that are known for winter steelheading but are also often overcrowded or kinda mundane. I’m talking about rivers like you, Cowlitz and Skykomish, home to terminal fisheries, lots of anglers and the hope of a steelhead that will bite your hook before it makes into the hatchery. These rivers produce, which is why they are so popular, and with the shutdown of the coastal systems, they will be even more crowded. But at least they’re a place to catch a steelhead in what seems to be a dwindling fishery. Keep in mind that hatchery steelhead are not the issue. Don’t feel guilty about catching a fin-clipped fish or even trying to catch one. Hatchery production is going strong but it is the wild fish that are of concern. With February being the month that most wild fish also start to return, it might seem that WDFW would have just shut down the fishery early instead of closing it all together, but instead the rivers that are open will be closely watched. We need to do our part and use techniques that don’t mortally hook fish. Leave the bait at home and use

Side drifting setups await deployment on a steelhead river. Washington’s winter lineup is perhaps more constrained than it has ever been, but there are options still to be had on the west side of the Evergreen State and further south in Oregon. (JASON BROOKS) | FEBRUARY 2022

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COLUMN February marks prime time on numerous streams that have late-timed returns. There may be a push to open the Skookumchuck to tap into its expected-to-beplentiful fish, but systems with the largest smolt releases include the Cowlitz, Elochoman and other open rivers. (JASON BROOKS)

artificials such as rubber worms, plugs and spoons.

THE QUILLAYUTE SYSTEM, including the Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc Rivers, is open and has good broodstock programs, which enhance the fisheries. They’re also under “selective fishery” regulations, which means no bait or scents and single-point barbless hooks only. Be responsible this year so we can have a season next winter and in future years on these rivers. Back to the ever-popular Skykomish, which had a 2020 smolt plant of 107,923 for return this winter. Keep in mind, smolt plants and returns are not the same thing but it shows how many fish were planted 156 Northwest Sportsman


into the system. Steelhead at-sea survival and returns are hard to predict, as they are good at dispersing and disappearing once they enter the Pacific. The Skykomish will see both hatchery and wild fish, so again, use caution and some common sense. Reiter Ponds area is very popular and for good reason, as it has a lot of hatchery fish holding there. One common technique here is to float jigs. Even when tipped with a piece of prawn or shrimp, the jig is often pinned in the upper lip of the fish and rarely swallowed. Floating jigs is a great way to fish any of the winter steelhead rivers and reduce hook mortality while catching steelhead. Note that the mainstem Skykomish below

the Wallace River closed as of February 1, but the stretch from there up to the North and South Fork, including the Reiter area, is open through February 15. An even better bet in the Seattle area might be the Snoqualmie and its Tokul Creek, which have been seeing one of their best returns of hatchery steelhead in years. On the Cowlitz, fishing will only get better as the month wanes, and March can be really good as well. This river is mostly all hatchery fish due to Barrier Dam and had a total smolt plant release in 2020 of 576,263 split between Blue Creek (238,386) and the mainstem (337,877). Using bait here is common and won’t affect the future of the fishery. Again, floating jigs allows you to fish long runs and be very effective. The biggest issue with the Cowlitz is the crowds. Going to this river with the mindset that you won’t find solitude will help make the day enjoyable.

GIVEN CLOSURES ELSEWHERE, including no catch-and-release season on the fabled Skagit and Sauk, it might be the season to explore new rivers. Looking at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s winter steelhead smolt plant stats, rivers such as the Washougal (85,091 smolts) and the Willapa (61,667 total smolts) stand out, though the latter closes March 1 or April 1, depending on which fork and stretch you fish. Another option is to head further south to Oregon, where winter steelhead fishing is going strong. There are plenty of rivers within a few hours’ drive of the greater Vancouver and Portland area, including the Sandy. This river is very popular for good reason. It has a decent return of winter steelhead that peaks in January and February, and it is easy to access. If you are in the area, don’t forget Eagle Creek, which also has a good fishery. Other rivers to research include the Alsea, Clackamas, Chetco, Big Creek, Nestucca and Wilson, among others. A quick glance at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife catch stats ( will give you a list of top rivers and what licenses are needed. Do some research and dust off the rods. It is finally time to head to a river and cast a line for some winter steelhead. NS


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Dip This! ‘Moderate To Strong’ Smelt Run Expected Who knows whether the slender, oily fish and river conditions will line up this winter, but early signs are hopeful for netters. By MD Johnson


es, folks. It’s that time again. Well, it’s almost that time. At least we’re hoping it’s that

time. What time, you ask? Smelt, that’s what. It’s always a crap shoot, this smelt thing. Back in 1993 when I first moved to Washington from

Ohio, smelt dipping – or at least the opportunity to smelt dip – was a given. February. Nighttime. Lanterns. Cold water. Cold beer. Good classic rock. As a transplant, it didn’t take

A young smelt dipper shows off a nice haul from the Cowlitz River during 2020’s first opener. The 2022 forecast calls for “a moderate to strong run this year. Potentially larger than last year,” according to Laura Heironimus, Washington’s eulachon biologist. (WDFW) | FEBRUARY 2022

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FISHING but a time or two smelt “hunting” for me to get hooked, figuratively speaking, and for the little silvery fish to rank right up there with razor clams in terms of personal outdoor entertainment. Damn, it was fun. But, as many of you know, things changed. Smelt runs declined, the fish were put on the endangered species list and … well, here’s what I penned at this time in 2021, and the chronology of events, sadly, isn’t any different now than it was last season: The past two decades have presented a much different picture when the topic turns to the little fish. Smelt populations, biologists determined, began to decline in the mid-1990s, or about the time I left Washington for Iowa. In 2001, the Washington-Oregon Eulachon

Management Plan was drafted; nine years later in 2010, Columbia River smelt were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as a threatened population, a status they hold to the present day. Smelt dipping seasons have become spotty to nonexistent; no season, no season, no season, followed by half a day here and half a day there. All doom ’n gloom? Actually, no. Earlier this year, just as I did in early 2021, I caught up with Laura Heironimus, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Columbia River sturgeon, smelt and lamprey management unit lead. Once again at my request, she pulled her crystal ball from hiding, waved her most capable hands over it, and provided us both with what’s

Author MD Johnson (right) sweeps his long-handled net upstream during a past season. Parks and other riverside accesses provide good spots to try and catch shoreline-running smelt. (JULIA JOHNSON)

happening in the river now (or at least as of January 11, when we chatted) in terms of smelt and what we anxious dippers o’ fish might expect come the traditional February smelt season. Or lack thereof. So without further ado:

Northwest Sportsman Where are we at as far as smelt and a probable smelt run in the Big River are concerned? Laura Heironimus [Laughs.] We’re still seeing trickles of smelt. We’ve been requesting any information from the public about (what they’re seeing). We have several people we talk to regularly, who call in with updates. In December, we had some smelt upstream in the Cowlitz River as far up as Castle Rock, but it’s still a pretty low abundance. The forecast data, though, shows a moderate to strong run this year. Potentially larger than last year, so we’re anticipating more fish.

NWS How important is this public input? Often, I think people feel as though they have no voice in the WDFW’s process, but in the case of smelt, what the public is seeing is important, yes? LH We’ve been trying to figure out how to better source that information from the public because (in terms of) our smelt program, we’re a small unit within the department. And we don’t have a lot of resources for monitoring smelt. We have one technician who runs around and observes smelt, and then we have once-a-week sampling on the mainstem Columbia. But outside of that, we don’t have a lot of eyes on the water, so getting that information from the public helps us to start recognizing the signs of smelt.

NWS The signs of smelt? LH The easiest, of course, would be if you’re standing on the bank and actually see large schools of smelt moving upstream. Other signs include large aggregations of pinnipeds feeding on smelt. Sometimes, they’ll leave this black oily scat behind on the docks after they’ve eaten a lot 160 Northwest Sportsman


Northwest Sportsman 161

FISHING of smelt. Or we’ll see a lot of bird activity. Everything in the river eats smelt, so when you start seeing all the predators come out in large number, that’s indicative of smelt. At times, the birds will follow the large ships upriver. The ships “churn” up the smelt as they’re moving upriver, and the birds will follow the ships closely and pick up those fish.

NWS Beginning roughly February 1, Laura, what’s the season setting process for smelt? Can that process be put in a Reader’s Digest condensed version? LH [Chuckles again.] This year, we have a public compact hearing (January 25, 2022) scheduled where we’ll consider commercial smelt fisheries. The commercial fisheries

typically harvest a very, very low percentage of smelt compared to the sport fishery; however, it (commercial fishery) does provide us with regular sampling in the mainstem Columbia. We actually collect a lot of data about the smelt run from that commercial fishery, so setting that commercial fishery is essential to us in estimating that run size and being able to set future recreational fisheries. This year, we’re looking at two to three days per week from late January through early March for the commercial fishery. The trigger we’ve used in past years has been somewhere around 200 pounds per landing. [Author’s note: A “landing” represents the pounds of smelt a commercial vessel takes to market in a single day of fishing.] We’ll monitor those daily landings and

decide when the run gets large enough based on the average number of fish caught per landing. Then, we’ll have to determine whether we have signs of smelt in an area where recreational dippers will be, e.g. the Cowlitz River, which is our most popular (dipping) area. So, we’ll look for signs in the Cowlitz, and try to determine if we have a high likelihood of harvesting smelt in those areas. From there, we usually have a short window (in order) to set a recreational fishery. Smelt can be flashy; here one week, and gone the next. So we have a short window of time. This past year has been a little more complicated with that layer of Covid, and having to prepare for that. In 2021, there were extra steps, such as working with the Department of Health and the Governor’s Office to get approval to set that fishery. This year, I’m not sure if the same steps will apply. I’ve already asked our leadership in our management team if we have to go through all that again. I know it’s a concern. [Author’s note: Before finishing, Heironimus added yet another layer in this already-thick fabric of events.] LH Another step in setting this fishery is our consultation with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Eulachon are a federally protected species, and are listed as threatened. We’ve done that (consulted with NOAA) already this year, and we have their support in setting these fisheries.

NWS With all the high water experienced

Freshly caught smelt partially fill a dipper’s bucket. The daily limit of 10 pounds equals about a quarter of a 5-gallon bucket, according to state managers. (JULIA JOHNSON) 162 Northwest Sportsman


along the Lower Columbia in early January, has that affected the current smelt run in any way? LH Some of the driving factors for smelt are water temperature and water clarity. We believe most of the fish won’t run (up the Columbia) if the water temperature is below 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 Fahrenheit). So this cold water will keep the majority of the fish out of the river for a little longer, but as that water warms up, we’ll usually

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FISHING see the larger schools of fish running up into the river. On top of that, smelt are prey to a lot of other species. If the water is very clear, they’re more likely to run at night when they’re not as visible to predators.

NWS So, Laura. Drag that crystal ball all you wildlife biologists and management officials have into the center of the table. If you had to say now, are we going to have a season in the Cowlitz in 2022? LH In terms of when it will happen, I don’t know, but I think it’s very likely we’ll have a recreational fishery based on the data I’m seeing now. I think it’s very likely we’ll have one or two days on the Cowlitz this year.

AND, WITH THAT, I’m all giggly, and If a smelt season is held, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will likely again set up sampling stations along the lower Cowlitz, and dippers are encouraged to stop by. The stations are a great opportunity to not only help biologists collect data on the run but learn more about the Endangered Species Act-listed fish. Over 2021’s five-hour opener, 9,900 dippers harvested an estimated 90,750 pounds worth of smelt, equating to roughly 925,650 individual fish, 96 percent of which were male. (WDFW)


already poring over Al Gore’s interweb for new black smelt nets and locating my Tidy Cat kitty litter buckets. Bring it on, Mother Nature! Let’s bring it on. NS

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