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Buoy 10 Season Falls Short of Forecast

Allen Thomas
The Columbian, September 22, 2007

Anglers caught far fewer salmon than anticipated in the popular Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River, state officials reported Tuesday.

An estimated 57,000 sportsmen kept 5,800 fall chinook and 45,400 coho through Sept.13, compared to an expected catch of 10,700 chinook and 119,000 coho before the season began on Aug. 1, said John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Buoy 10 is the name given to the August-September sport fishery in the 16 miles between Tongue Point east of Astoria and Buoy No. 10 where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Chinook fishing closed as scheduled on Sept. 1 at Buoy 10 and the coho limit increased to three fish a day. While the season is open, only a few boats a day are still fishing the Buoy 10 area.

"The fish (chinook) were caught at Buoy 10 about a week earlier than normal, then pretty much disappeared,''said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Fisheries are structured in March and April based on forecasts and designed to distribute the catches between sportsmen, commercial fishermen and treaty fishermen, plus between portions of the Columbia and the tributaries.

State and tribal biologists forecasted in March a return to the Columbia of 532,900 adult fall chinook and 703,000 coho.

It appears the chinook run will be smaller than forecast, with the upriver bright stock of chinook headed for the upper Columbia down about a third, said Bill Tweit, Columbia River policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The coho forecast will be updated in coming weeks, North said.

Lower Columbia -- Sportsmen between Tongue Point and Bonneville Dam through Sunday had caught 13,600 chinook, 7,100 steelhead and about 2,000 coho from 98,700 fishing trips, North said.

Chinook retention in the Columbia upstream of the mouth of the Lewis River is closed now to allow fish to return to most lower Columbia tributaries.

Steelhead -- The original forecast of 351,000 steelhead has been upgraded to 584,000. Daily counts at Bonneville Dam hit record highs in August, although the latter (Group B) portion of the run actually been downgraded from 56,900 ot 40,000.

Group A steelhead are smaller fish returning to a variety of watersheds in Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and Idaho. Group B are larger steelhead headed primarily to Snake River tributaries.

Gillnet seasons -- Five commercial fishing openings for the next week were adopted on Tuesday.

The netters will fish with 8- to 9¾-inch mesh from 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday between the Lewis River mouth and Beacon Rock. They also will fish from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Sept. 30 with 6-inch maximum mesh from the mouth of the Lewis River downstream to the ocean.

The net fleet will target on sturgeon from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday from the ocean to Beacon Rock with 9- to 9¾-inch mesh.

Allen Thomas
Buoy 10 Season Falls Short of Forecast
The Columbian, September 22, 2007

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