the film

Lower Columbia Opens to
Chinook, Steelhead and Shad

by Staff
The Daily News, May 18, 2007

The lower Columbia River opened Wednesday for spring chinook, summer steelhead and shad, but anglers may think twice about moving to the big river from the tributaries. "Catch rates for spring chinook have been pretty darned good on the Lewis, Kalama and several other rivers for the past couple of weeks," Joe Hymer, a Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist, said in a news release. "This is a good time to be out there."

Some of the best action has been on the North Fork Lewis River, where boat anglers have been averaging better than one hatchery spring chinook for every two rods. In all, 166 boat anglers reported catching 83 adult springers and releasing another 16 in a weeklong creel check ending May 13. Bank anglers caught 10 spring chinook and release five more on the north fork that week.

Next in line was the Kalama River, where 56 boat anglers averaged one springer for every three rods and bank anglers averaged one in five. Catch rates have been lower on the Cowlitz River, Hymer said.

Farther east, anglers have been averaging one adult spring chinook for every four rods at Drano Lake and one in six on the Wind River, where the bag limit was raised to two springers or hatchery steelhead (or one of each). The upper river has been open to fishing since May 5. But fishing has generally been slow on the White Salmon River and the Klickitat River.

"This year's spring chinook run has been a little late crossing Bonneville Dam," Hymer said. "Not as late as last year, but late enough to affect fisheries upriver."

Even so, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon have sufficient confidence in this year's upriver run to reopen the spring chinook fishery in the lower Columbia River. Through May 31, anglers can catch and keep six hatchery salmon -- including two adult fish -- from the Interstate 5 bridge downstream to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line.

That fishery had been closed since April 16 while fishery managers watched the counts at Bonneville Dam to determine if the upriver run will reach the preseason forecast of 78,500 fish. "We're now fairly confident the run will be pretty close to that by the time the returns tail off in mid-June," said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator. "The peak of the run is over, but there are still a lot of spring chinook available for harvest." Other options include summer-run steelhead and shad, which also opened for fishing May 16 in the lower Columbia. The hatchery steelhead fishery overlaps the area open to spring chinook fishing, from the I-5 bridge downstream to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line. The daily limit is two marked hatchery fish.

Shad fishing is open from Bonneville Dam to the mouth of the Columbia, with no bag limit and no minimum size. More than 17,000 shad were counted May 15 at Bonneville Dam. "The best time to hit them is when the counts start running to 20,000 to 50,000 per day," said Hymer.

Sturgeon opened to retention fishing May 12 downriver from the Wauna powerline crossing near Cathlamet and catch rates have been slowly improving in all areas.

Bass "have practically been leaping into anglers' boats," especially in the John Day Pool. Sixteen boat anglers fishing there during the week ending May 13 reported catching a total of 232 bass and releasing 187 of them. Thirty-eight boat anglers fishing the same waters also reported catching 50 walleye and releasing 16.

With dozens of rivers around the region set to open June 1 for trout fishing, anglers continue to pull rainbows, triploids and browns from lakes throughout the area. At Klineline Pond, bank anglers have been averaging over 1.5 trout per rod, mostly rainbows and browns. Mayfield Lake was stocked with 6,375 half-pound rainbows May 4 and Lake Sacajawea was planted with 2,900 catchable-size rainbows May 7.

Lower Columbia Opens to Chinook, Steelhead and Shad
The Daily News, May 18, 2007

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