Buoy 10 Salmon Season Closing Earlyby Allen Thomas
The Columbian, August 21, 2008
Chinook salmon retention in the popular Buoy 10 season at the Columbia River mouth will be closed beginning Monday - a week earlier than scheduled - after anglers caught too many fish too quickly.
"To not make it to Labor Day at Buoy 10 is just incredible," said Trey Carskadon of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. "It is absolutely killing the sport-fishing industry."
State biologists project that at the end of fishing on Sunday the chinook catch will be more than 5,900 total chinook and 1,560 upriver bright chinook.
The guideline for the Buoy 10 season was 6,500 total chinook and 1,250 upriver brights.
Wild Snake River fall chinook, protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, are a component of the upriver bright fall chinook stock. Limitations on the upriver bright catch are designed to prevent overharvest of the wild Snake River fish.
Angling at Buoy 10, the lower 16 miles of the Columbia from Buoy No. 10 at the ocean to Tongue Point east of Astoria, will remain open for hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead, although chinook are the big attraction.
It is estimated only 1,366 coho will have been landed from 19,200 fishing trips through Sunday.
Fishing at Buoy 10 opened on Aug. 1 with a two-fish daily limit, although only one chinook. Angling success jumped substantially beginning Aug. 9, a week earlier than good fishing normally begins.
Last week, the catch was an exceptional 0.43 chinook per rod, almost a chinook per every other rod. Even with heavy wind and rain on Monday through Wednesday, the catch rate was a very good chinook per three rods.
Thursday, Oregon samplers were checking anglers with about two chinook per boat, said John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Butch Smith of the Ilwaco Charter Association asked if anglers could continue to keep fin-clipped (hatchery origin) chinook while fishing for coho at Buoy 10.
Cindy LeFleur of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the percentage of fin-clipped fall chinook is low. Also, some wild-spawning Lewis River fall chinook have been captured and fin-clipped. That run is expected to return at half the spawning goal.
Stuart Ellis of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission also pointed out that international agreements under the Pacific Salmon Treaty with Canada require new fisheries targeting on marked fish undergo review by a scientific committee.
Chinook retention between Tongue Point and Bonneville Dam will begin Sept. 1 and is scheduled to continue through Sept. 16. That season normally opens Aug. 1.
To open the Tongue Point-Bonneville stretch early to compensate for the early Buoy 10 closure puts the Sept. 16 closure date in jeopardy, LeFleur said. The other options would be to take chinook away from anglers upstream of Bonneville Dam, or from the gillnetters, she added.
Steve Williams of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife pointed out that salmon fishing at Buoy 10 has been excellent for anglers lucky enough to get to the Columbia River estuary earlier than normal.
"The bottom line is we have more demand, ability and interest to catch fish than fish to provide," Williams said.
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