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Sunday, May 6, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Outdoors Notebook | Hook pikeminnow, and save salmon

Seattle Times staff reporter

The bounty fishing program to nab the troublesome northern pikeminnow fish in the Columbia River begins May 14.

The cash-reward project funded by the Bonneville Power Administration began in 1990, and is designed to get rid of the juvenile salmon- and steelhead-devouring predators better known as squawfish.

The squawfish season will remain open through Sept. 30 from the Columbia River mouth to Priest Rapids Dam in central Washington, and from the Snake River mouth up to Hells Canyon Dam.

The first 100 fish [9 inches or longer] caught by each angler is worth $4 apiece; the next 300 are $5; and after 400 fish it is $8. Specially tagged fish are worth $500 apiece.

Last year, 31,639 anglers managed to land 232,883 fish, including 226 tagged fish. Since 1990, more than 2.8 million squawfish have been eradicated from both rivers.

Many anglers average a few hundred dollars during the entire season, but some are known to make a decent yearly wage on these pesky fish.

Last year, David Vasilchuk of Vancouver caught 5,714 squawfish (eight were tagged fish) and earned $48,348 before taxes. Second was Nikolay Zaremskiy of Gresham, Ore., who got $45,351, and third went to Thomas Papst of West Linn, Ore., with $42,388. In all, the top 20 anglers cashed in $487,229 for 61,262 fish (47 were tagged).

According to Craig Miller with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the payoff last season was the largest since the reward program began 17 years ago.

Vasilchuk and Zaremskiy seem to have found the secret to catching squawfish and earning good money the last few years.

In 2005, Vasilchuk was the runner-up with $39,620 and 4,746 fish, and Zaremskiy took top honors with $38,014 and 4,800 fish.

In 2004, Zaremskiy came in second with $31,654 and 4,362 fish, and Vasilchuk placed ninth, earning $23,948 with 2,699 fish.

In 2003, Zaremskiy took sixth place with $15,420 for 2,622 fish, and Vasilchuk placed eighth with $14,248 for 2,442 fish. In 2002, Zaremskiy placed 11th with $13,418, hooking 2,303 fish.

The highest catches last year occurred at The Dalles Boat Basin check station with 45,688 fish caught.

The second-highest catch of 37,711 came from Boyer Park in the Snake River below Lower Granite Dam, followed by 23,507 fish from the M. James Gleason ramp in the Lower Columbia River Washougal.

The fish caught aren't just thrown away in the trash; they are used to make liquid organic fertilizer for agriculture and fish meal for poultry and cattle.

There will be 17 check stations along both rivers. Anglers must register in person each day before fishing.

Catches must be checked in at the station each day, and reward vouchers will be given.

The fish prefer rocky areas with fast currents near dams, islands, river mouths, points, eddies, rows of pilings and ledges or bars in the river. They prefer depths of 7 to 25 feet.

Early morning, near sunset and at night are prime time to catch them. Baits of choice include worms, salmon eggs, fish entrails, chicken livers, crayfish tails, shrimp and grasshoppers. Artificial plastic lures like grubs, worms or shads work well. Squawfish are attracted to light-colored lures in the day and darker ones at night.

Details: 800-858-9015 or www.pikeminnow.org.

Notes

• The Washington Trails Association is hosting an educational family with children guided hike 10 a.m. May 12 at the Twin Falls Trails in Olallie State Park. The 1.5-mile round trip hike will take hikers through old-growth forests with views of the South Fork Snoqualmie River waterfalls. Hikers be divided into groups based on age from toddlers to young children. Reservations are required and limited to 20. Details: 206-625-1367 or www.wta.org.

• Tiger muskie anglers are organizing the first Muskies Inc. Chapter Club in Washington, and the first meeting is 7 p.m. May 24 at the Denny's Restaurant, 2132 S. 320th Way in Federal Way. Guest speaker is Bruce Boulding, a state Fish and Wildlife fish program biologist.

The chapter will focus on muskie fishing techniques and where to fish for them. The non-profit organization was founded in 1966 by Gil Hamm in St. Paul, Minn. Details: 253-854-8484 or e-mail nwmuskies@comcast.net.

• The free Youth Outdoor Adventure Expo is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 19 at the Cowlitz County Expo Center, 1900 7th Ave., in Longview.

The event will include instruction and demonstrations on fly-tying, casting, catch-and-release fishing, firearm safety, outdoor survival, hunting, compass reading, boating, marine touch tanks and bird identification. Details: 360-864-4259 or 360-902-8308.

• The Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mercer Island Fire Station, 3030 78th S.E.

Members will discuss catching walleye, coho in Lake Washington and a humorous look at bass fishing. Details: 425-823-0704.

• The Puget Sound Anglers Sno-King Chapter meeting is 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the South County Senior Center, 220 Railroad Ave. in Edmonds. Guest speaker Terry Rudnick will discuss halibut fishing. Details: www.psasnoking.com.

• The Icicle Chapter of Trout Unlimited and The Bavarian Chapter of Kiwanis Spring Fishing Derby and Fisherman's Breakfast is 6 a.m. May 19 at the Cove Resort on Fish Lake.

Cost is a $10 donation, and does not include parking and launch fee. Fish Lake is located in Chelan County 20 miles west of Leavenworth off Highway 2. Details: 509-548-7662 or e-mail robertstroup63@earthlink.net.

• The free Backyard Wildlife Festival is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 12 at the Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. South. The event is designed to educate people about birds, insects and animals in their backyards, gardens and neighborhoods.

Activities includes procession of species kids costume parade, guided bird walks along the Duwamish River with Carol Schulz of the Rainier Audubon Society, Northwest Trek Kids' Zone, REI Pavilion, native plant sales, arts and crafts marketplace, garden tour and a musical performance.

Russell Link, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist and author of "Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest" and "Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest," will host a presentation. Details: www.backyardwildlifefair.org.

• The Long Beach Surf Perch Derby is May 19, with anglers casting from shores competing in individual and team categories for cash prizes. Registration and an entry fee are required. Details: 800-451-2542 or www.funbeach.com.

• The Puget Sound Bird Fest is May 18-19 in downtown and along the waterfront of Edmonds. Indoor activities take place at the Anderson Center, 700 Main St., including speakers on bird watching basics, identification of common backyard birds, bird friendly gardening, bid photography, raptor education and birds of Puget Sound.

There will also be vendors, kids activities, guided walks and field trips, exhibits and a silent auction. The keynote speaker is Dr. Jeff Price titled: "A Bird's Eye View of Global Warming." General admission is free, but some pre-registered field trips are $5. Details: www.pugetsoundbirdfest.com.

• State Fish and Wildlife and the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation is hosting a Fishing Kids event 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 19 at Seward Park on Lake Washington in South Seattle.

During the event, about 500 kids will get a chance to fish, and go home with a T-shirt, rod and reel, and maybe a fish or two. Cost is $5.

Each child should arrive 30 minutes before their assigned time. Kids will listen to a short talk on water safety, and volunteers will show them how to bait the hook and use the rod and reel before they start fishing. Pre-registration is required. Details: 425-251-3202 or 206-684-4075 or www.castforkids.org.

• Cape Disappointment State Park is hosting a free Lewis and Clark Expedition living-history event July 20-22 and are looking for volunteers.

Volunteers for the event titled: "Clark's Campsite" on Waikiki Beach near Ilwaco will greet visitors and explain how life was for the expedition back in 1805. Visitors will then walk to the beach where they can interact with expedition members at the camp.

The soldiers are members of the Pacific Northwest Living Historians who have conducted events at Fort Clatsop and Seaside, Ore. Details: 360-642 -- 3029 or email lcic@parks.wa.gov.

• The City of Lynnwood Senior Center is hosting a free kayak trip informational meeting 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. May 17 at the Senior Center, 5800 198th St. S.W. in Lynnwood. Senior kayakers of all skill levels are invited to attend, and trips are scheduled later this month. Membership is $12. Details: 425-744-6464 or http://recconnect.ci.lynnwood.wa.us.

• The Washington Trails Association are looking for volunteers for trail maintenance work May 12-13 at the Middle Fork Snoqualmie in the Snoqualmie Ranger District. Work includes clearing the trail of downed logs and debris, brushing back plants along the trail corridor, and clearing drainage dips and outlets. Details: 206-625-1367 or www.wta.org.

• The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is celebrating the opening of a new day-use area at Beacon Rock State Park 1 p.m. May 16.

The event will be at the new day-use picnic area in Beacon Rock State Park on Highway 14, located about 24 miles east of Vancouver. Tours of the newly opened day-use area will be conducted, and includes new open space for picnicking, river access, hiking, camping, climbing, mountain biking, equestrian use and bird-watching. The park has parking for 34 boat trailers, 10 recreational vehicles and 30 cars, which will be increased to 64 vehicle parking spaces in the near future.

• Come view U.S. Snowboard Superpipe and BoarderCross Team members as they train May 8-13 at the Mt. Hood Meadows Resort in Oregon.

Almost all 40 team members are expected to converge on the mountain, including six snowboarders who have competed in the Olympics.

Expected to attend at Olympic gold medalist Hanah Teter, and silver medalists Gretchen Bleiler and Lindsey Jacobellis.

Mt. Hood Meadows will operate daily during that week for skier and snowboarders. Details: 503-287-5438 or www.skihood.com.

• Sea Sense the Women's Sailing & Powerboating School is hosting two boating courses for women in the San Juan Islands. The sailing class is July 15-21, and the powerboating course is July 28-Aug. 3 and Aug. 5-11. Cost is $2,195 for sail and $2,895 for power classes. Details: 800-332-1404 or www.seasenseboating.com.

• The Pacific Northwest Salmon Center is seeking nominations for the Wild Salmon Hall of Fame Awards.

The award recognizes an individual from across the Pacific Northwest for their dedicated, influential passion for the preservation and protection of wild salmon. Deadline is June 1. An awards dinner will be Sept. 22 at the Kitsap Conference Center in Bremerton. Details: 360-275-2763Cor www.pnwsalmoncenter.org/wshf.xml.

• The Race and Ace Competition is May 19 at the Tamarack Resort in Idaho. The event is a single-day biathlon where competitors ski or snowboard a dual giant slalom course in the morning and play 18 holes of in the afternoon. Cost is $199 until registration closes May 14. Details: www.raceandace.com.

• The world's top mountain bikers will head to Whistler Mountain Resort in British Columbia for the Kokanee Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival on July 21-29.

The festival will offer a wide range of mountain biking events, free daily concerts, drop-in clinics, latest in bikes and gear, pro demonstrations and a wide range of other activities. Details: www.crankworx.com.

• Alaskan fishing guide Dick Lange will host a seven-week classes titled: Fly Fishing 102, Fly Fishing for Salmon and Trout

The course is held once-a-week from 6:30-8:30 p.m. beginning July 11 at the Parks and Recreation Center Building in Woodinville.

Cost is $39 for Woodinville residents and $44.85 for non-residents, plus $10 for course manual. Details: 425.398.9327 or www.ci.woodinville.wa.us.

• The Rosario Resort & Spa on Orcas Island is offering a "Take a Hike, Clear a Trail, Enjoy a Vacation" travel package now through Sept. 3.

The three-hour-a-day program offers guests a chance to prepare trails for the Moran State Park's summer season and maintain them. Guests who volunteer will receive a special "green" rate of $119 per night, a 40 percent discount. Participants will also receive a 15 percent discount at Rosario's Avanyu spa.

Many cleanup sites will require three to four mile hikes, while others are accessible by vans provided by the resort. Activities will include brushing trails and removing unwanted weeds. Details: 866-801-ROCK or www.rosario.rockresorts.com.

• The Cycle Washington Memorial two-day bike ride from Seattle to Wenatchee is July 21-22. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Jill Spanjer Foundation and the Washington State RSVP Association. Details: www.cyclewamemorialride.com.

• The Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall holds numerous outdoors events, including a monthly "Tracking Club," that meets in Sultan on the third Saturday of each month now through May (but not December) from 9 a.m. to noon.

The program is open to naturalists, hunters and people curious about learning to identify, follow and understand stories written in tracks left by animals on the Skykomish River shoreline. Details: 425-788-1301 or www.wildernessawareness.org.

• The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group is looking for volunteers for the wild salmon recovery program now through June. Details: 360-275-3575 or email Chris Daniel at chris@hcseg.org.

• Alpine Ascents International Inc. will begin offering a variety of guided climbs and instructional programs on Mount Rainier starting next year. The group has scheduled more than 30 expeditions and more than 50 training courses in 14 countries, including the Arctic and Antarctic regions. These expeditions range from six-day training courses in the North Cascades and Alaska to three-month expeditions to Mount Everest to summit climbs and courses on Mount Rainier. Details: 206-378-1927 or www.AlpineAscents.com.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Northwest Fly Anglers offers various public classes through the year. The public also is invited to club meetings on the third Thursday of each month, at the Haller Lake Community Center, 12579 Densmore Ave N., in North Seattle. Details: 206-684-7524.

• The Emerald Sea Dive Club offers year-round activities including the big buddy program and weekly and monthly dives. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month, 7-9 p.m. at Alfy's Pizza, 4820 196th S.W. in Lynnwood. Details: 425-775-2410 or www.emeraldseadiveclub.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• Northend Bassmasters is accepting new members who want to learn more about bass fishing. The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Crystal Creek Cafe, 22620 Bothell-Everett Highway (Canyon Park) in Bothell. Details: 206-789-4259 or e-mail Gary Millard at glmillard@comcast.net.

• Local Escapes, a local-based travel planner and tour operator, offers a two-night guided exploration of the Olympic Peninsula's rainforest, mountains and coastline.

The personal guided package offers snowshoeing, hiking and other recreational activities. The cost is $950 per person and includes two-night accommodations; transportation; all equipment including snowshoes, poles and raingear; park entrance fees and all meals and refreshments. Details: 877-780-4162 or www.localescapes.com.

• The storms from last November and December left a wake of damage and downed trees across many parts of Washington's state parks.

Because of the severe damage, many parks normally open to the public during the winter months were forced to close their doors.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation is now looking for volunteers to help clear debris from park trails and camping areas in preparation for the spring and summer months.

Here is a list of parks seeking out volunteers: Bridle Trails in Issaquah, 425-649-4276; Dash Point, near Tacoma, 253-661-4955; Kitsap Memorial, near Poulsbo, 360-779-3205; Saint Edward Park in Kenmore, 425-823-2992; Seaquest in Castle Rock, 360-274-8633; Spencer Spit, on Lopez Island, 360-468-2251; Wenberg in Stanwood, 360-652-7417; and Moran on Orcas Island, 360-376-3636.

Also, Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island, 360-675-2417, and Blake Island State Park in Puget Sound near Seattle, 360-731-8330 are looking for volunteers to help remove noxious weed in specific park locations. Details: 360-902-8583.

• The Washington Audubon Society has unveiled a new section of the Great Washington State Birding Trail to include the Olympic Loop in the Olympic Peninsula.

The new route features more than 200 of Washington's 365 bird species. The trails are usually self-guided driving tours to places where birds are likely to be seen, and some include water routes where visitors can paddle canoes or kayaks. Copies of the trail maps can be ordered at www.wa.audubon.org.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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