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Columbia Chinook Fishing Improves

by Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times, March 9, 2011

Chinook Salmon The spring chinook action on the Lower Columbia River continues to gain steam heading into this weekend.

"It was a little better (Tuesday) than it had been (last weekend), and they caught some fish around Vancouver and in the Camas-Washougal area," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "The water warmed up, and that seemed to improve the bite."

Effort has increased with close to 500 boats and 300 bank anglers seen during an aerial count last Saturday.

Boat anglers this past week averaged one chinook kept or released per every 17.8 rods. About 80 percent of the spring chinook were hatchery-marked, and 95 percent of them were of upriver origin.

Hymer says counts at Bonneville Dam have shown an "uptick" of spring chinook as seven had passed the fish counter on Monday, bringing the cumulative count to 29.

"A few fish are squeezing by the sea lions below Bonneville," Hymer said.

Tributaries above Bonneville like the Wind River and Drano Lake open for spring chinook March 16, but don't expect much to happen until daily counts soar into the thousands.

A break in the blustery weather allowed salmon anglers to venture out onto Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Geoduck Restaurant Salmon Derby was held on March 5-6 in Brinnon on Hood Canal, and 100 anglers landed a total of 27 hatchery chinook. Winner was Rick Poyner with an 18-pound, 2-3/8-ounce chinook worth $400.

Next up is the Everett Blackmouth Derby hosted by Bayside Marine on March 19. Details: the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca some managed to catch hatchery chinook on Coyote Bank. Other places to try are Middle, Hein and Salmon banks. Early spring is the prime time for hitting these exposed banks on the eastern Strait.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Port Angeles area remains a good choice for hatchery chinook.

In the San Juan Islands it remains quality over quantity for hatchery chinook 13 to 18 pounds.

Mark Yuasa
Columbia Chinook Fishing Improves
Seattle Times, March 9, 2011

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