Outdoors: Hike in for a big and juicy fish dinner

Shane Ullrich

With cooler weather upon us this last couple of days, the activity has picked up in local waters and some nice fish are being caught in both Green Peter and Foster reservoirs.

Foster Reservoir is full and still has a lot of rainbow trout available. Bass can be caught along the face of the dam or shoreline. Sunnyside has been stocked with trout. Trout stocking in the valley ponds is mostly completed for the season as water is warming up. All of these ponds support several species of warmwater game fish. Success for bass, sunfish, and catfish can be had by using bait and being patient.

Kokanee fishing at Green Peter Reservoir remains mildly successful with fish running in the 14-15 inch range. The fish have moved into deeper water at 45-60 feet. Rainbow can be caught by fishing at shallower depths. The reservoir level is low enough that the only usable boat ramp is at Thistle Creek.

But the real whopper fish are being caught in the high mountain lakes. A new map out at the Oregon Department of Forestry shows some of these lakes.

If you plan on visiting them, be equipped to do some hiking. Most have heavily vegetated trails that slow the pace a little. But the work of getting there is very much worth the wait when you see the size and get to taste some of these beautiful fish.

A gentleman came in with some photos of some real nice fish, one after another as I flipped through them. He said he took a hike into the Jefferson Wilderness and not only was he surprised by the sizes of those fish, the taste was great too.

When you visit the high lakes be sure to grab your float-tubes or try your luck fishing from the bank. Be aware of current campfire rules, and always pack out what you pack in.

The guys are still lined up on both sides of the Santiam River, most on the Wiley Creek drop-in, but also over at Church Camp. Word is it’s like winning the lottery there – when you hook one it’s that rare. Drifters are producing a little more but it is not uncommon to fish all day and get nothing.

On that note, let me add that hunting season is coming on and if you have a kid who’s wanting to hunt, the Hunter Safety course is required and time is short to get them in.

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Passage numbers for summer steelhead moving through the Willamette Falls fishway showed some signs of slowing down last week. The numbers remain low, in comparison to some years, but steady. The summer-run steelhead counted through July 9 total 12,381. Water conditions in the mainstem Willamette and in both forks of the Santiam are good, but pressure remains relatively light. Salmon angling effort has ended on the Lower Willamette and the shad fishery is winding down also. Counts at the falls through July 9 total 22,289 spring Chinook swimming past the viewing window at the fish ladder. Fish are spread throughout the North and South Santiams, though warmer water than usual has caused the majority of the fish to move upstream more quickly and concentrated them in the middle to upper reaches. River levels were expected last week to be reduced to summer lows by the time you read this.

You might want to travel to the coast as tuna fishing has been excellent. Tuna are being found at 15 miles offshore with the majority at 25 miles offshore. The average catch per angler was between six and seven fish.

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Want to help hunters get access to where the wildlife is? More than 45 percent of land in Oregon is privately-owned, making private landowners essential to keeping hunters hunting and wildlife habitat healthy in Oregon.

You can help increase hunting access and improve wildlife habitat on private lands by serving on the board of ODFW’s Access and Habitat program.

Applications are now being accepted for two landowner representatives on the statewide board. Oregonians with an interest in hunting and wildlife—especially those that own rural land and understand landowners’ concerns—are encouraged to apply by the Oct. 19 deadline.

Responsibilities of the position include attendance at quarterly meetings held at locations statewide, where board members review A&H project proposals. The individuals appointed will serve the term of Jan. 1, 2008 – Dec. 31, 2011.

Applicants for the two positions will initially be considered by state Department of Forestry and Department of Agriculture staff, who will forward their recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. The Commission will make the final appointments of the two statewide landowner representative positions during their Dec. 7 meeting in Salem.

For info, visit the Access and Habitat Web page at for an application or contact Eric Rickerson at (503) 947-6082.

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Rocky Mountain goats are reestablishing their native territory across Northeast Oregon with the help of wildlife biologists.

Last week, 13 Rocky mountain goats were transported from the Elkhorn Mountains in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to the Strawberry Mountains in Malheur National Forest as part of ODFW’s ongoing relocation efforts. These mountain goats will supplement a small population that likely migrated from the Elkhorns in the late 1990s and have been successfully reproducing since 2005.

ODFW wildlife biologists and veterinary staff were on the ground to capture, transport and release the animals. Staff from the U.S. Forest Service and volunteers from the Oregon Hunters Association assisted with the project.

Rocky Mountain goats are attracted to salt during the spring and summer so the goats were trapped using a drop net baited with salt. To protect and monitor the animals’ health, biologists and veterinary staff obtained blood samples from and administered inoculations to the animals. After biologists placed radio-collars on the goats to track movements and survival rates, the goats were placed in individual crates, transported to the Strawberry Mountains in vehicles, and released.

Rocky Mountain goats were likely extirpated from Oregon prior to or during European settlement in the late 19th century. The rarest game animal actually hunted in the state today, the present population is estimated to be 600-700, the result of efforts like the one that occurred last week.

This year’s project was the 15th since efforts began in 1950, when five goats were transported from Chopaka Mountain in northern Washington to the Wallowa Mountains by the Oregon State Game Commission (now the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Under ODFW’s Rocky Mountain goat and bighorn sheep management plan, the department transplants animals to help reestablish populations in historic habitat. For more information, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFWhtml/InfoCntrWild/PDFs/sgplan_1203.pdf

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Here’s why we don’t get too friendly with wild animals… Read the following cautionary tale and you’ll get the picture.

The recent experiences of an elk Tillamook County residents nicknamed “Lucky” are a case study in what can go wrong when young animals are removed from the wild.

Taken from his natural habitat as a calf in 2006, Lucky went from being small and manageable to large and troublesome as a yearling bull this year. “Lucky was seemingly harmless as an elk calf,” says Herman Biederbeck, district wildlife biologist. “But he became a public nuisance when he matured, growing in size and strength. He has challenged neighbors, entered houses and jumped into the back of a pick-up truck. An animal this size can be dangerous to people and pets, especially in the early fall when elk enter the breeding period or rut.”

ODFW staff relocated Lucky to a more remote part of Tillamook County, but he found his way to a house and went inside. Lucky had to be relocated again on July 18, this time to a very remote part of the Cascades. Biederbeck is not optimistic that “Lucky” will survive for long in the wild.

According to Biederbeck, human taming of Lucky has drastically reduced his chances of survival. The elk has very limited survival instincts such as finding food, escaping from predators, or interacting with other elk.

Unfortunately, other young animals are placed in similar situations each year when well-intentioned people “rescue” young wildlife from the wild. People mistake animals temporarily away from their parents as orphans, but it is natural for wild mothers to temporarily leave their young. People trying to care for these animals are generally unable to provide an appropriate diet and environment for the young animal, which can lead to malnourishment and death. Most native wildlife species are difficult or impossible to place in zoos or other educational institutions, so that is not an option.

According to ODFW statistics on this issue, which come from the reports of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, of 168 young animals that were known to be removed from the wild in 2006, 31 died while in captivity. The fate of others after release is unknown. These figures represent only situations where rehabilitators (who are licensed and have special training) get involved. ODFW believes the problem is far greater than these numbers indicate, due to unreported removals from the wild.

Not only is removing young animals harmful to wildlife; it is also a crime. In 2006, OSP cited nine people statewide for this offense, which is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,250 fine.

“It’s illegal and it’s not fair to the animal. So just don’t pick young wildlife up. It’s always better to leave the animal in place,” says Sgt. Brent Seaholm of the Oregon State Police. “Only when we are absolutely certain that the mother has been killed and know that it is orphaned, will ODFW or OSP pick up the animal and take it to a rehabber. It is illegal for anyone to pick up these animals. Call ODFW or OSP if you encounter young wildlife you suspect or know has been orphaned.”

For more information on what to do when encountering young wildlife, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/viewing/

Golden Rules for Young Wildlife Encounters

1. Don’t pick up a young animal. It’s safe to assume its mother left it there temporarily and will return.

2. If you find a recently hatched bird on the ground, gently and quickly return it to the nest.

3. Teach your children to leave young wildlife alone.

4. If you believe an animal is in danger or seriously hurt, contact a local office of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police or local wildlife rehabilitator.

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With summer temperatures heating up and that means wildlife will be in search of shade and water. Don’t be surprised if you see local wildlife in your backyard on hot days. If you prefer to keep deer and other animals out of your flowers and garden, try putting a fence around your garden or installing motion detected sprinklers and lights as a deterrent. Remember not to feed any wild animal for their safety and yours. If you see an injured or orphaned animal, leave it alone and contact your local ODFW office or Oregon State Police Department. More tips on living with wildlife can be found at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFWhtml/InfoCntrWild/urbanwild.pdf.