When Papa’s in town, there’s so much to do. Hand in hand and shadow on shadow, he and his towhead grandson roam wherever adventures can be found or summoned. In the right light, it seems as if all six and a half decades of age difference are wiped away and all that’s left are two best friends palling around and trolling for fun.

When Papa’s in town, there’s endless songs to sing and guitars to strum and bongos to bang. There’s beds to bounce on and off of and endless armies of invisible robots to rebuff with the help of throw pillow shields and shiny superhero capes.

When Papa’s in town, the river never seems too far away, and there’s always an overstuffed pocket full of snacks ready to be emptied. The two lost boys are content to find each other in the great wide open of their own Never-Never Land. They set out to clean up the shoreline where river rocks try to slip away on the sly in an effort to escape the channel. With a detective’s diligence, they pick up each rascally stone and toss it back into the depths of the river where bubbles rise as they watch the stones sink below the surface. A collection of sticks wind up with a similar fate, but instead of sinking they float on down like Huck Finn’s raft before disappearing forever around the big bend.

When Papa’s in town, osprey fan out overhead and scan the river for the fleeting flash of silver fish. Brazen rabbits hide in the tall grass, holding their spot until big awkward bounding footsteps send them scared and scattering. Dappled deer lope along fence lines and search for the sweet spot and space in time between tall grass and tiny green tree fruit. Nothing goes unnoticed.

When Papa’s in town, old dogs seek out backyard shade and nip at ornery horse flies while napping like there will be no tomorrow. Little plastic pools stay full and fresh when Papa’s in town, and swim trunks stay hanging on the line. Wet footprints trample over tall grass and track seed pods back inside for hard-earned evening baths that leave mud rings around the tub.

When Papa’s in town, there is no bedtime. Instead, good ol’ boys get tired and go to bed with real smiles slapped on sleepy heads. All the best books get read, again and again, and Papa’s boys fall asleep to the sound of six string lullabies strummed with love that had once seemed long forgotten.

When Papa’s in town, we remember how much we miss him when he’s gone and we hold our collective breath so that he might never leave again. But in his inevitable absence, we see him everywhere and remember that he is a part of us always. Every stick. Every rock. Every bird, ball and song. As long as we remember to try our luck, and play all day like Tom and Huck, we have Papa with us every day, just the way it should be.

FISHIN’

The weather has been nice enough lately to make anyone want to grab a rod and find a shady bank to cast from. However, the returns on those efforts have been fairly muted for everyone except area osprey.

Unfortunately, fishing on the Chehalis River remains closed for all species including bass. That regulation has been in effect for weeks now, but judging by the number of rods that have been observed won by the river, the word seems to be taking a while to make the rounds in certain circles.

Anglers on the lower Columbia River are in better shape, but even they are still prohibited from harvesting salmon. One impending change that has been met with cheers from sport anglers is the expiration of the Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement. That license requirement will come off the books at the end of June. Additionally, the use of barbless hooks on the mainstem of the Columbia and many of its tributaries became voluntary on June 1. The daily limit through June 30 is two hatchery steelhead. During July, anglers will be limited to just one hatchery steelhead per day. Last week, fish officials surveyed 58 salmon boats and 122 bank anglers on the Washington side between Skamokawa and the Interstate 5 Bridge. Creel samples show that bank anglers near Longview caught an average of one steelhead per 10 rods while boat anglers averaged nearly one steelhead per three rods.

On the Cowlitz River last week, the WDFW found four bank rods and four boat rods below the I-5 Bridge with no catch to show. Between the I-5 Bridge and the barrier dam, another seven bank rods had no catch to show but 65 rods on 19 boats managed to keep 15 steelhead while tossing back one more.

At the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery last week, crews retrieved 51 spring Chinook adults, 10 jacks, 15 mini-jacks and 36 summer steelhead. Employees then redistributed six spring Chinook adults and five jacks into Lake Scanewa. At least 130 summer steelhead have also been recycled back down to the I-5 Bridge so far this year. On Thursday, river flow below Mayfield Dam was reported at about 2,960 cubic feet per second. Water visibility this week has been about 11 feet with a temperature of roughly 50 degrees. At Riffe Lake, the Mossyrock Park and Taidnapam North boat launches are both open, but the Kosmos and Taidnapam launches are both closed.

A cursory glance around the rest of the lower Columbia River watershed didn’t have much more to offer in terms of enticement for anglers. Last week, the WDFW sampled 15 bank anglers on the Kalama River with no catch while one bank angler and two boat anglers on the Lewis River were similarly skunked.

With summer prospects for big fish looking rather dire, it may be wise to turn attention toward trout fisheries. The WDFW has been busy trucking hatchery trout to and fro in the region. May 22 was a particularly busy day for trout stocking. Swofford Pond received 5,200 rainbows weighing just over a third of a pound, while Goose Lake was planted with 7,850 cutthroat trout weighing a half pound each and another 2,000 rainbows weighing about two-thirds of a pound.

In Grays Harbor that same day, Failor Lake received 700 rainbow trout weighing just under two-thirds of a pound while Vance Creek Pond 1 and Failor Lake were each also stocked with 100 rainbow trout weighing 4 pounds each. Lake Aberdeen was planted with another 200 rainbow trout weighing 2 pounds each on May 22.

In Toledo, South Lewis County Park Pond received 1,040 rainbow trout weighing just over a third of a pound each on May 22. Out at Mayfield Lake, there were 4,180 rainbow trout weighing just under a half pound each that were trucked in on June 6 while another 5,400 rainbow weighing just over one-third of a pound were deposited on May 30. Mineral Lake also received a bump to its fish population with a delivery of 2,700 brown trout weighing about one-third of a pound each on June 4.

Lake Sacajawea received 3,000 brown trout weighing just over one-third of a pound each on June 19, and Takhlakh Lake was planted with 200 rainbows that weighed about 3.33 pounds each on June 17.

If big fish and bigger waters are what you’re after, then remember that salt water ocean fishing is set to open for sport anglers on June 22 in all four marine areas off of Washington’s coast. Those openings will include opportunity for both Chinook and coho salmon.

In Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and Marine Area 2 (Westport) anglers are allowed to keep two salmon per day, only one of which may be a king. All wild coho must be released. The ocean salmon season is set to close on Sept. 30 in all four areas. However, closures could be implemented earlier if catch quotas are reached. A portion of Marine Area 3 is slated to reopen from Oct. 1-13, or until anglers harvest 100 Chinook or 100 coho.

Meanwhile, halibut fisheries are now open for common folk. In Marine Area 1, anglers began fishing at all depths on June 20, while the nearshore fishery has been open every day since June 7. In Marine Area 2, halibut became legal to bonk on June 20.

HUNTIN’

Disabled hunters who would like to take advantage of the Road Access entry program should get started on submitting their applications.

The program is designed to provide opportunities for hunters who have lower extremity mobility disabilities. The designated areas are intended to have fewer barriers and vehicle interference. The program is a cooperative effort between the WDFW, the Recreation and Conservation Office, the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service, along with private timber companies and hunters.

It’s important to note that the Road Access program is different from the special permit system. If selected for the Road Access program, hunters will be allowed to drive a motorized vehicle into areas where other hunters are required to walk.

It is not necessary to purchase a license or tags in order to apply for a Road Access Entry permit. However, applicants must be a registered hunter with a permanent lower extremity disability and a Disabled Hunter Wild ID number. However, if selected for an entry permit, hunters will be required to purchase a license and applicable tags before conducting their hunt. Additional information can be found online at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/disabled-hunter-road-access-entry-program.

In related news, results of the special hunting permit drawings are now available online. Notifications will be provided to winners by mail over the next several weeks, but applicants can find out how lucky they are by logging in at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/#/login.

Coyotes continue to be the only target for hunters this time of year. Luckily, the hay has been getting pulled off area fields, so those devil dogs won’t be able to hide out in the tall grass for much longer.

Additionally, it’s always good to remember that state law allows for the harvest of most road kill deer and elk with the use of an emergency permit provided by the WDFW. One caveat is that deer are not legal for salvage in Clark, Cowlitz or Wahkiakum counties in order to protect endangered populations of Columbia white-tailed deer. Permits are available online and must be obtained within 24-hours of any deer or elk salvage. Permits can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/game_salvaging/application.html.

SHRIMPIN’

Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 11 and 13 are set to remain open for non-spot shrimp harvest until further notice. Any spot shrimp harvested during these fisheries must be returned to the water immediately.

If spot shrimp are your favorite, which they tend to be, Marine Areas 4, 5, 6 and 7 are still open for harvest of the prized Salish Sea prawns.

Shrimpers who prefer to stick around Hood Canal will likely be glad to know that two days have been added to the previously scheduled fishery. As such, Marine Area 12 will be open on June 22 until 4 p.m.

Additionally, Marine Areas 7 South and 7 East have had their shrimp season extended by two days. Those extra opportunities for all shrimp species will take place on June 26-27. A press release from the WDFW noted that, “The target share for recreational spot shrimp has not been taken in these areas. Additional days of fishing are being added to take the target state share of spot shrimp.”

BIKIN’

Bicyclists will have a hard time choosing where to let their wheels roll this weekend. That’s because there are two premier scenic events taking place with the Tour de Blast and Ride the Willapa battling for peddalers.

More than 500 cyclists are expected to hit Spirit Lake Highway on Saturday for the annual Tour de Blast ride through the Mount St. Helens blast zone. The ride is a fundraiser sponsored by the Longview Rotary Club with a goal of $45,000 this year. The maximum number of riders allowed for the day is 900.

There are three different routes that provide varying degrees of difficulty for riders, with each trek starting out in Toutle. The ride to Johnston Ridge is one of the most difficult around with an elevation gain of 7,000 feet. The starting line will be open from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and the finish line will close at 4 p.m.

Registration can be taken care of until 9 a.m. on the day of the race at a cost of $100. Registration fees cover the ride, food, drink, support crews and a pasta feed back at the finish line. Hot showers will also be available at the ride’s conclusion.

For those who prefer flatland pedaling, the Willapa Hills Trail is the course they should set out on. The annual Ride the Willapa event will take place on June 21-22 with riders beginning in Chehalis and making their way on the old railroad grade along the Chehalis River.

The 65-mile course stops in Pe Ell before turning folks around for a return leg back to the Mint City. Camping will be offered over night at Rainbow Falls State Park via early registration and a less formal campout will be held at Willapa Hills Farm. There are less than 50 camping spots remaining from a total allotment of 250 spaces at Rainbow Falls State Park, but there’s room for about 140 more pedalers to crash for the night out at Willapa Hills Farm right along the banks of the river.

The deadline to register early and online was noon on June 21. In-person registration will be allowed after that time for $10 extra dollars. Entertainment will include a Tour de Farms with music, food and drink along the route as well as a bluegrass concert in the evening. Those offerings will be open to the non-riding public as well for a fee of $10. Registered riders will be allowed in for free.

For more information or to register in advance, go online to http://ridethewillapa.com/.

BURNIN’

A burn ban went into effect in Lewis County on Monday and is unlikely to be lifted until rains return with regularity in the fall.

A press release from the county noted that, “After careful review of the current and extended weather forecast, the Lewis County Commissioners, Community Development Director and Fire Marshal have determined that current weather conditions within Lewis County have created substantial fire dangers. It has been determined there is a need to enact restriction(s) on outdoor burning on all lands regulated by the Lewis County EXCEPT for recreational campfires in designated campgrounds and on private lands.”

Recreational fires must not exceed 3 feet in diameter and must have a containment ring made of metal, stone or brick, at least 8 inches above the ground and at least 2 feet wide circle cleared down to bare soil around the outside of the pit. Additionally, the area around a campfire must be cleared of all flammable material in a 10-foot diameter, with a 20-foot overhead clearance. Campfires must be attended at all times with extinguishing tools at hand.

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