Spring Chinook on Lower Columbia River has
by Mark Yuasa
The time has come for those seeking out spring chinook in the Lower Columbia River, and the prospects continue to get better heading into the weekend.
"It is finally improving, although we've still got some real good days and some slower ones," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "There are fish pretty much spread throughout the lower river, and there has also been some catch below Bonneville."
The rain this week has colored up the water in the Lower Columbia, which could make for some tougher fishing. Best areas are Cathlamet, and the section from I-5 up to I-205.
Hymer says the Willamette River in Oregon has also been fishing pretty well for spring chinook. Catches picked up for spring chinook and steelhead in the Cowlitz and Kalama, but remains quiet in the Lewis.
Last week, anglers made 25,438 trips on the Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam, and caught 4,874 adult spring chinook (4,220 kept and 654 released). Saturday's aerial count showed 2,062 boats on the lower river, plus 754 bank anglers.
The season total so far is 68,290 angler trips with 6,682 spring chinook kept and 1,011 released. The effort and catch totals for March are the among the highest in the history of the creel program, which began in 1968. Only a non-selective catch of 9,000 (when both hatchery-marked and unmarked fish were allowed to be kept) in 1990, and the 8,800 fish caught hatchery-marked spring chinook fishery in 2003 were higher.
The Columbia from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is open daily through April 18. Areas from I-5 to the I-205 Bridge are open Thursday to Saturday, and then closed to fishing after those days.
Only bank fishing is allowed from I-205 Bridge to Bonneville Dam Thursday to Saturday, and then closed to fishing after those days.
Areas from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam are open daily through May 31. Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines, six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.
The Wind River and Drano Lake are also open daily, but don't expect those spring chinook fisheries to blossom until early May or when fish count surges at Bonneville.
Daily limit is one hatchery-marked spring chinook daily below Bonneville Dam, and two fish per day above the dam.
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