March 1 opener a week from today

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A week from today, Friday, March 1 at midnight, the March 1 opener will begin. This is the first of several fishing opening seasons in the Columbia Basin.

The March First opener can be a big deal in the Columbia Basin. The weather is the biggest factor, as with all spring fishing openers. One of the more popular waters is Martha Lake.

Expect the parking lot to be full of campers, if the temperature is above single digits. Anglers will be fishing through the ice, if the lake is not ice free. No matter if there is ice or not, be careful at all the lakes.

Lakes opening at midnight on March first in Grant County include: Cascade, Merry, Spring, Martha, Nunnally, Quincy, Dry Falls, Dusty, Lenore, Caliche, along with Winchester Wasteway, the portion within the Winchester Game Reserve.

Fish available for harvest for spring chinook reduced

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today approved a sport fishery for spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River that reflects a significant reduction in the number of fish available for harvest this year.

According to preseason projections, about 99,300 upriver spring chinook will reach the Columbia this year, down 14 percent from last year and 50 percent below the 10-year average. Those fish return to hatcheries and spawning areas upriver from Bonneville Dam.

In addition, fishery managers are also expecting much lower returns than last year to several major lower Columbia River tributaries, particularly the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers. On the Cowlitz, this year’s spring chinook run is projected to reach just 11 percent of the 10-year average and fall short of meeting hatchery production goals.

Although salmon fishing is currently open from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Interstate-5 bridge, spring chinook usually don’t arrive in large numbers until mid-to-late March.

Anglers are encouraged to check the Fish and Wildlife website for current salmon fishing regulations.

Fish and Wildlife invites public to help set salmon seasons

State fishery managers have scheduled a variety of opportunities for the public to participate in setting salmon fishing seasons for 2019, starting with the annual statewide salmon forecast meeting Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Fish and Wildlife will present initial forecasts compiled by state and tribal biologists of the 2019 salmon returns at the meeting scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. S.E., Olympia.

This meeting is one of more than a dozen sessions scheduled at various locations around the state as part of this year’s salmon season-setting process.

The eastside meetings include: March 27, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Kennewick Irrigation District Auditorium, 2015 S. Ely Street, Kennewick and March 28, Snake River Fisheries Discussion, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Walla Walla Community College, Clarkston Campus Room 104, 1470 Bridge St., Clarkston. Public discussion of management objectives and preliminary options for Snake River sport fisheries.

State fishery managers rely on input from anglers, commercial fishers, and others interested in salmon as they work to develop this year’s fisheries.

Online comments: Beginning in mid-March, fishery proposals will be posted on Fish and Wildlife’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/, where the public can submit comments electronically.

Spring black bear special hunt applications due next week, Feb. 28

Hunters must purchase and submit their 2019 spring black bear special hunt applications by midnight on Feb. 28. Hunts will occur in specific areas of western and eastern Washington.

Hunters who submit their applications are entered into a drawing in mid-March for 272 permits in western Washington and 509 permits for hunts east of the Cascade Range. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will notify winners no later than March 31.

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