Last week there was at least one big catch on the Cowlitz River, and it took a handful of Sheriffs, a K-9 unit, and a full fleet of good samaritan boaters to land the larcenous lunker.

The fishing hole fiasco all started when a Longview man stole a van from a barn in Ethel. The man then (allegedly, as they say) fled pursuing law enforcement vehicles at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hours and at one point threw a pickaxe out the window at his pursuers but somehow managed only to impale the tool in the stolen vehicle he was driving.

After driving down toward the salmon hatchery the suspect seemed to be out of rope but instead drove the van straight into the river at what eye witnesses estimated to be 60 miles per hour. He then exited the vehicle and began to swim across the river. About halfway across a fishing boat picked the man up in order to prevent him from drowning and tried to return him to law enforcement back on shore but the suspect attempted to commandeer the boat in order to further facilitate his attempted escape. The boat’s captain and the two other anglers onboard were in no mood to be hijacked however and proceeded to beat the wannabe pirate repeatedly until he tumbled overboard. It should be noted that the man was not wearing a shirt and his pants were around his ankles by the time he fell back into the water and he remained submerged for sometime as onlookers worried that he may have drowned.

Eventually the man appeared downriver and weerily stumbled to shore before making a temporary escape into woods. In the meantime boaters had abandoned their angling efforts in order to ferry law enforcement personnel, including a K-9 unit, across the river to continue the pursuit. As his pursuers closed in, though, the wily suspect fled back to the river and swam back to the north shore from which he had originated. This time, though, only a small fishing boat was on hand to shuttle law enforcement back across the river, which required several extra trips. Finally, after about an hour long pursuit the K-9 was able to catch up with the suspect and reportedly chewed him up a bit before law enforcement humans were able to catch up and apprehend the naked, shredded, and presumably pruny, man.

On Monday, Andrew Holmgren, 29, was charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree attempted assault, attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle, two counts of second-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and harming a police dog. He was held on a $500,000 cash bond.

Everyone who saw the fiasco agreed that it was certainly the biggest catch of the week on the Cowlitz. Mostly though, anglers were just happy to see a wild catch brought to shore that didn’t have to be tossed back.

FISHIN’

As for the real life reel fishing on the Cowlitz River, the catch continues to leave much to be desired with many anglers reporting 10 toss back fish landed for every one keeper that lands in box. Last week the WDFW sampled 62 bank rods below the I-5 Bridge and found 15 keeper coho jacks along with one released Chinook jack and four released coho jacks. Another 46 rods on nine boats kept six coho and 27 jacks while releasing one Chinook, six jacks and two coho jacks. Above I-5 and up to the Barrier Dam 60 bank rods released 27 Chinook and one coho jack. Another 30 rods on 21 boats managed to find seven keeper coho jacks and two steelhead, while releasing 21 Chinook, one jack and two coho.

Last week crews at the salmon hatchery were able to retrieve 1,093 coho adults, 2,210 coho jacks, 162 fall Chinook adults, 34 fall Chinook jacks, 107 cutthroat trout and 19 summer-run steelhead. Those crews also released 141 coho adults and 165 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle, and 191 coho adults and 425 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.Another 353 coho adults, 1026 coho jacks, 28 fall Chinook adults, 13 fall Chinook jacks and four cutthroat trout were plopped into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, while 283 coho adults, 597 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout were deposited into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flow below Mayfield Dam on Monday was recorded at about 3,540 cubic feet per second. Water visibility and temperature haven’t changed in weeks, sticking right around 14 feet and 54 degrees, respectively. Anglers must remember that Chinook retention is closed from the mouth to the Barrier Dam, including all tributaries.

“Some more rain would probably help to get a few more of them to bite but the fish are going to run on the Cowlitz no matter what,” said Andy Coleman, purveyor of Andy’s Angling Adventures. “The thing about coho is they just don’t hold up in the river at all. They just head straight for the hatchery so you’ve got to have a run of about 40,000 fish just to catch a few.”

The Chehalis River system could still use a lot more rain to get the salmon pumping but that doesn’t mean that the action has been all muted during the last week. Big Dan Fagerness of Chehalis hit the river just past Elma earlier this week and brought along a first rate first mate – his son, Daniel, who strikes out batters for both W.F. West and the Rural Baseball Dirtbags when he’s not tossing sinkers on the river.

The elder Fagerness called it a, “Slay day” on the lower river and noted that he and his golden armed boy were able to land at least 25 salmon on the day, including nine wild coho, six chrome kings and a mess of chum. The only bummer was that none of the fish were keeper quality, but Fagerness said it was still, “a fun day” on the water.

As river flow increases new salmon should begin to course through the length of the river. On Tuesday river flow on the Wynoochee River above Black Creek was reported at 186 cubic feet per second while flow at Grisdale was recorded at 209 cubic feet per second.

Across from the Discovery Trail near the Lewis/Thurston County line last week a dogged angler found himself hooking into the same fat old dog salmon time and time again. After hooking a king mid-flank while casting in the riffles last Thursday the veteran angler cranked hard to pull the mottled fish in sideways against the current.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I broke off. I don’t know why but I like playing with light tackle. I mean I’ve got a walleye pole with like a 10 or 12 pound test,” he said. “It’s more fun that way.”

The angler noted that he’s been using corkies exclusively so far this fall.

“I figure when I start seeing some silvers come in then I’ll start using some bait. But these kings aren’t really biting on that,” he said.

As the happlessly snagged fish writhed against the current and began to bump against the rocks along the shallow shoreline the angler proclaimed with disgust, “This looks an awful lot like the one my wife caught earlier,” before releasing it back into the stream to fulfill its great spawning quest.

Back on the mainstem Columbia River all salmon and steelhead fishing is still shuttered from Buoy 10 all the way to Pasco. However, a few tributaries besides the Cowlitz are still offering at least meager piscatorial prospects. Last week on the Kalama River, for instance, the WDFW sampled 16 bank anglers with one keeper coho while two rods on one boat had no catch. Meanwhile, on the Lewis River 106 bank anglers kept five chinook and nine coho jacks while releasing five Chinook, one jack, and one coho jack. Another 37 rods on 19 boats kept one Chinook, three jacks, three coho, nine jacks, and one steelhead while releasing three Chinook and five coho jacks.

Anglers will also find fish biting on area ponds and lakes this time of year as they try to fatten up before winter. Buoying those odds are the 147,000 “catchable-size” trout that the WDFW plans to plant prior to the end of November. Those fish are bound for at least 55 different bodies of water across the state and will serve to enhance the millions of hatchery trout already planted this year. A complete list of lakes slated for new fish, along with a complete statewide stocking plan, can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/fall-into-fishing/.

At Mayfield Lake Resort and Marina handiman Bill says the bite for hatchery rainbow trout and tiger musky will continue year round. He admits that the fish may be easier to find during the summer months, when effort usually peaks, but he also insists that any honest effort will typically be rewarded with a bite.

“When you live on the lake you start to get to know what they are doing, where they are going and where they are going to be,” said Bill. “Sometimes they like to hang out in the color change because they see in a different spectrum than we do.”

Bill says when he wants to bring home a mess of rainbows he typically deploys a cowbell with a wedding ring. He added that he likes to split his leader and sink one hook with a banana weight in order to double his odds of success.

“That way you can find out what level they are at,” he explained.

HUNTIN’

If there’s been one common refrain coming from area hunters so far this fall it's that there’s not been enough rain so it’s too noisy to sneak up on any critters in the woods. Those unseasonably dry conditions have left leaves and branches crunching under boot and quarry subsequently scurrying off into the safety of evergreen thickets.

If the past is any indicator though the weather should be changing for good soon and most hunters ought to have at least one more opportunity to get back out there in an effort to fill their tags before time runs out for good.

Modern firearm hunts for black-tailed deer will continue through the end of the month in all applicable GMUs. Similar hunts on the east side of the Cascade Mountains for white-tailed deer will continue through Oct. 26 in some units, while other areas closed to whitetails and mule deer on Oct. 23.

Modern firearm hunts for elk will begin in eastern Washington on Saturday and then run through Nov. 4, while modern firearm hunting for elk in western Washington will begin on Nov. 3. Archers will have limited options for elk in eastern Washington GMUs 203, 209-248, 250, 254-272, 278d, 284, 290, 379d, 381 between Oct. 27 and Nov. 15. Meanwhile, muzzleloader toters will have access to the same areas during those dates, in addition to GMU 373d.

Bird hunts will soon make up the bulk of the hunting opportunity. Forest grouse and crow seasons will run through the end of the year while openings for mourning doves will be open through Oct. 30.

Pheasant hunts in western Washington will continue through Nov. 30 with daily openings between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Area release sites include Skookumchuck, Fort Lewis, Kosmos, Scatter Creek, & Lincoln Creek.

Hunts for California quail, mountain quail, and northern bobwhite will continue in western Washington through Nov. 30, but fall turkey hunts area mixed bag nowadays. While some areas closed for the season on Oct. 12, GMUs 101-154 and 162-186 will remain open through the end of the year.

Statewide duck, coot and snipe seasons will continue through the end of the month before resuming on Nov. 3. Scaup will be off limits until that late season opening. Goose season in Management Area 1 and 3 will stay open through Nov. 25, In Goose Management Area 2 all areas except for the Ridgefield Wildlife Area will be open through Sunday, Oct. 28 before reopening on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in November. The Ridgefield National wildlife Refuge is open for hunting on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through Oct. 27, and will then reopen on Nov. 24.

Fall bear season will continue to lope along through Nov. 15 and hunters can prowl for cougars through at least Dec. 31 in all applicable areas. Bobcat, fox, raccoon, cottontail rabbits, and snowshoe hares are all fair fodder through the Ides of March.

As always, coyotes are legal targets all year long and most roadkill is legal for salvage with a free emergency permit.

CLAMMIN’

Starting Thursday connoisseurs of the succulent bivalve will have another opportunity to go pounding sand in search of fresh shellfish for the frying pan. Late last week the WDFW approved a four-day coastal razor clam dig that will begin at Twin Harbors and Copalis.

Those digging days were given eh go-ahead after marine toxin testing revealed that the clams are safe to eat.

The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates, and evening low tides:

Oct. 25, Thursday, 7:55 p.m.; -0.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Oct. 26, Friday, 8:36 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Oct. 27, Saturday, 9:19 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Oct. 28, Sunday, 10:08 p.m.; -0.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

The digs are designated as evening tides and no digging will be allowed on any beach before noon. According to WDFW coastal shellfish manager, Dan Ayres, the best results are typically had about one or two hours prior to absolute low tide. He also reminds diggers to keep an eye on the surf and come prepared with lanterns or flashlights.

The WDFW has also scheduled another set of tentative digging dates for Nov. 8-11. Those digs will be dependent upon additional marine toxin testing conducted about one week in advance. Those proposed razor clam digs would take place on the following dates, tides, and beaches:

Nov. 8, Thursday, 6:57 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Nov. 9, Friday, 7:36 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Nov. 10, Saturday, 8:15 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Nov. 11, Sunday, 8:56 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Washington state law requires all diggers age 15 and older to possess a fishing license. The daily limit is 15 clams, and they must be kept regardless of size or condition. No high grading allowed. Additionally, each person must dig their own clams and carry them in a personal container.

WOLFIN’

The WDFW is seeking applicants to serve a three year term on a citizen committee charged with guiding difficult wolf recovery and management practices.

The Wolf Advisory Group was formed in 2013 with nine members to ostensibly represent the interest of environmentalists, hunters and livestock ranchers. The group was increased to 18 members in 2015 in order to allow for more diverse representation. Currently there is one open position on the group. The 17 other active members are serving staggered terms, some of which are set to expire at the end of this year.

New members will be appointed by new WDFW director Kelly Susewind.

“This advisory group has been extremely helpful in advising the department on the challenging issue of recovering and managing gray wolves in our state,” Susewind said, in a press release. “We are looking for candidates who can work cooperatively with others to develop management recommendations that reflect a diversity of perspectives.”

According to Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead, the WDFW will accept applications and nominations from environmentalists, ranchers, hunters, and other interested individuals and organizations. New members should be available to begin attending meetings around the state as early as February 2019.

“The Wolf Advisory Group's members have a wide range of perspectives and opinions on wolf recovery and management, and we are committed to continuing this collaboration,” Martorello said in the release.

Applications or nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Nov. 30. All submissions can be sent either by email to Donny.martorello@dfw.wa.gov or by standard mail to Martorello at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P. O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.

Additional information, including required application or nomination fields, can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wag/.

ADVENTURIN’

This week the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced a dozen free days that will be offered at state parks next year.

Those offerings follow the guidelines set up by the state legislature when it established the Discover Pass system that requires Washington residents to pay extra to “discover” lands they probably already know well, and that most assuredly already belonged to the people. The first of those generous free days will be offered on the first day of the new year.

“We think the State Parks free days are a great way for people to try a new park or visit an old favorite,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch, in a press release.

One highlight on the list will be the weekend of June 8-9 when back to back free days will provide a weekend of free adventuring possibilities.

The complete schedule of 2019 Washington State Parks free days reads as follows:

Tuesday, Jan. 1 — First Day Hikes; New Year’s Day

Monday, Jan. 21 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tuesday, March 19 — State Parks’ 106th Birthday

Saturday, April 20 — Springtime free day\

Monday, April 22 — Earth Day

Saturday, June 1 — National Trails Day

Saturday, June 8 — National Get Outdoors Day

Sunday, June 9 — Free Fishing Day

Sunday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service Birthday

Saturday, Sept. 28 — National Public Lands Day

Monday, Nov. 11 — Veterans Day

Friday, Nov. 29 — Autumn free day

Created in 2011, the Discover Pass costs $30 per year or $10 per day and is required to access all lands managed by Washington State Parks, the WDFW, or DNR. The fine for accessing those areas without a Discover Pass is $99. That fine can be reduced to $59 if the violator provides proof of purchase of a Discover Pass in court. Free Days only apply to State Parks and do not cover WDFW or DNR lands.

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