By Bob Brown

Anyone interested in hunting black bears has until Feb. 28 to apply for a special hunt application. To apply, they must purchase a special permit application and a 2018 hunting license that includes black bear as a special option. Additionally, hunters must identify their hunt area choice by indicating the number associated with the hunt area.
Hunting licenses, bear transport tags, and bear permit applications may be purchased on line, by phone at (866) 246-9453, or at any license vendor.
Any legal weapon used for big-game seasons can be used for spring black bear hunts. Bait or hounds are not allowed by the state for these hunts.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is also advising applicants that some private timberland owners are limiting access or changing fees for access.. If you can’t secure access in advance, don’t apply for these hunts, WDFW officials said.

Chinook and steelhead fishing

WDFW has set the 2018 mainstem Columbia River spring chinook recreational fishery season, which will be effective March 1 through April 7 from Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), plus bank angling only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline. The daily bag limit will be two adult salmonids (chinook, coho, or steelhead) per day, but only one may be a chinook. Only adipose fin-clipped fish may be kept and all other permanent regulations apply.
Also, effective March 16,  the Columbia River will be open for retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead from Buoy 10 to the Highway 395 Bridge and shad from Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam only during days and in areas open to retention of adipose fin-clipped spring chinook.
The WDFW is forecasting a total of 365,600 fall chinook returning to the Columbia in 2018. The prediction is about half of the 10-year average return. The actual fall chinook return to the Columbia last year was 475, 900 fish. Several years of poor ocean conditions are likely contributing to the decreased returns.
The forecast is an estimate made in preparation for the North of Falcon season-setting process, and once that process is completed, the February forecast is expected to change slightly. Washington’s 2018 inside waters salmon fisheries is expected to be completed by state and tribal co-managers during the Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting in Portland April 6-11. Also during this meeting, ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels are expected to be completed.

Bob Brown lives in Roy and is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be reached at robertb1285@centurylink.net.