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Columbia River Chinook Estimate Scaled Back

by Sarah Hill
The Daily News, May 31, 2012

Fishery managers this week downsized the estimate of upriver spring chinook entering the mouth of the Columbia River to 209,400 fish.

The previous estimate had been 216,500 fish; the pre-season run size forecast was 314,200.

Fish managers set spring chinook seasons around allowable mortality to upriver wild fish. The mortality estimate for recreational fisheries downstream of Bonneville Dam is currently 10,292 fish, or 88.6 percent of the current allocation.

The managers are scheduled to meet again Monday, though no hearings when spring sport or commercial salmon seasons could be set have been scheduled.

Sport fishing reopened on the Columbia last Saturday and Sunday. More than 1,000 salmonid boats and nearly 1,700 bank anglers were counted on the lower Columbia below Bonneville on Saturday, with almost 11,000 salmonid angler trips for the two day opener.

Preliminary catch estimates for the weekend include 688 adults kept and 320 released.

Another statistic is unfavorable for next year's spring chinook fishery. Through May 29, there have been 7,341 jacks counted at Bonneville Dam. Last year by the same date there were 47,928. The recent 10 year average is 19,450. Managers use the jack count to predict the overall run size the following year.

Shad run disappoints

The Columbia River shad run appears to be better than last year, but nowhere near average this season.

Through Tuesday, 16,517 shad had been counted at Bonneville Dam. By the same time last year, there were 1,419. The recent 10-year average is 212,404.

Last weekend bank anglers in the Camas/Washougal and Bonneville areas averaged 7.7 and 3.5 shad kept/released per rod, respectively. Last week, boat anglers in the Kalama area averaged nearly 16 shad kept/released per rod.

Day-use fees waived next two Saturdays

The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at all National Forest-operated recreation day-use fee sites Saturday, which is National Trails Day, and June 9, which is National Get Outdoors Day.

These sites normally require a $5 fee per vehicle or recreation pass, such as the Northwest Forest Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, Interagency Senior Pass, Interagency Access Pass, Golden Age, or Golden Access Passport. Entrance fees will also be waived at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, but not at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake, which is operated by the State Parks department.

Free Fishing Weekend around the corner

The annual Oregon and Washington Free Fishing Weekend will be June 9-10.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington. Also, neither a vehicle use permit nor a Discover Pass will be required that weekend to park at any of the 600 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Other rules such as season closures, size limits and bag limits will still be in effect.

Anglers will still be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch that weekend.

Help clear invasive plants

Volunteers will remove invasive plants at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge through the summer.

Ricefield bulrush is an invasive Eurasian plant that is threatening the health of refuge wetlands by pushing out native plants that wildlife need for food and cover. Because of past volunteer efforts, ricefield bulrush on the refuge has been much reduced — the refuge is the only place in the Pacific Northwest where it's found.

Volunteers will also remove yellow flag iris, a native of Europe which although beautiful is an aggressive invader in wetlands along the Columbia River.

Volunteers should wear waterproof boots, and long pants are recommended

Work parties are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays from June 20 through Sept. 1.

Sarah Hill
Columbia River Chinook Estimate Scaled Back
The Daily News, May 31, 2012

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