Big Game Hunting Pamphlet contest

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Dennis L. Clay

Fish and Wildlife is accepting photos for the 2016 Big Game Hunting Pamphlet Cover Photo Contest. This yearís theme is ďFinding Inner Strength,Ē a tribute to hunters with disabilities, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

This will be a great opportunity to celebrate thousands of Washington hunters, and their hunting companions, who overcome unique challenges every year to find success in the field.

Submit your photos showing these accomplishments, along with a short paragraph describing the scene, and you could be selected to be on the 2016 Big Game Hunting Pamphlet cover.

Perhaps I will submit a photo of the late Jerry Lester hunting deer with his walker by his side. Interesting, Fish and Wildlife did not put a deadline on the submission of the photos.


Spring bear hunt applications

Hunters may now purchase and submit applications for a 2016 spring black bear hunting permit, applicable to specific areas of western and eastern Washington. Hunters must purchase and submit an application to Fish and Wildlife by midnight Feb. 29 to be eligible for a permit.

A drawing will be held in mid-March for 345 permits in western Washington and 509 permits for hunts east of the Cascade Range. Permit winners will receive notification in the mail no later than March 31.

To apply for a permit, hunters must purchase a special permit application and a 2016 hunting license that includes bear as a species option. Hunting licenses, bear transport tags and bear permit applications may be purchased: Online at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by phone at (866) 246-9453 or at any license vendor in the state.


Spring turkey

We havenít seen the 2016 spring turkey hunting pamphlet yet, but if the season holds true to past years, it will range from April 15 through May 31.


Seasons set for spring chinook, sturgeon, smelt in Columbia River Basin

Anticipating a return of 299,200 adult spring chinook salmon, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today set this yearís initial fishing season to run through April 9 on the lower Columbia River.

In addition, representatives from the two states agreed to close the winter sturgeon retention fishery in the Bonneville Pool effective Feb. 8 and approved a six-hour recreational smelt season Feb. 6 on the Cowlitz River.

Here are the major provisions of those agreements: Spring chinook will run from March 1 through April 9. Anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville Dam may retain one marked, hatchery-reared adult spring chinook as part of their daily catch limit. The fishery will be open to both boat and bank anglers upriver to Beacon Rock, and, for bank anglers only, from there upriver to the fishing boundary just below the dam.

The sport fishery will close in all areas of the lower Columbia River on two Tuesdays, March 29 and April 5, to accommodate potential commercial fisheries.

Upstream of Bonneville Dam, anglers may retain one hatchery-reared adult spring chinook per day from March 16 through May 6 between the Tower Island powerlines and the Washington/Oregon state line. Bank anglers using hand-casted gear can also fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the Tower Island powerlines during this time.

Barbless hooks are required to fish for spring chinook in the Columbia River and anglers must release any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin.


Razor clam dig underway at Long Beach

There are Columbia Basin residents who enjoy digging razor clams. Now you can enjoy a month-long dig. Read on.

Razor clam diggers can look forward to more than a month of razor clam digging opportunities at Long Beach. Fish and Wildlife approved the dig, which runs from yesterday, Feb. 4, through March 10, at Long Beach after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. All other beaches remain closed to recreational razor clam digging.

The department approved this extended opening due to the abundance of clams available at Long Beach.

The dig at Long Beach is on evening tides. No digging will be allowed before noon any day. Diggers should check tide charts before heading out, since tides of one foot or above arenít conducive to digging.

For the best digging conditions, diggers are advised to plan their trips to the beach when the evening low tides are less than one foot. Diggers should monitor WDFWís main razor clam webpage for any potential changes to the Long Beach opening.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each diggerís clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2015-16 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach.

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