Spring Chinook are Biting
by Mark Yuasa
The best catches have occurred in the Woodland area; near the I-5 Bridge; below Puget Island; and Longview, Kalama and Cathlamet areas.
The dogwood trees are starting to bloom, and that's a sure sign for anglers to start hitting the Lower Columbia River for spring chinook.
"Fishermen use that as a signal," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "Right now the run is in a little bit of a stalled mode, and while effort increased the catch really didn't improve."
Last week, 1,709 anglers -- includes 563 boats -- caught 68 adult spring chinook (79 percent were hatchery fish) and 15 steelhead (53 percent were hatchery fish). From Feb. 1 to March 22, the estimated 30,450 angler trips is more than twice as large as 13,716 during the same time last year. The estimated 972 adult fish kept is nearly nine times higher than the same time last year when it was 109 fish.
"Not many people are catching fish, but if you get one it most likely will be a pretty good-sized 5-year-old fish," Hymer said. "Each day is a different story and it should improve soon."
The best catches have occurred in the Woodland area, near the I-5 Bridge, below Puget Island, and Longview, Kalama and Cathlamet areas.
The Bonneville Dam fish count of 536 fish through March 23 is the highest since 2003. This year's dam adult fish count through March 23 is the 13th largest since at least 1939. About 30 to 50 spring chinook are moving up the ladder daily.
Water temperatures are also ideal (47 degrees) and the warmest since 1992.
Catches on the Cowlitz River picked up for steelhead. Fish counts at the hatchery increased this past week and there has also been some spring chinook catch at barrier dam, which points to a positive pathway. In fact, state Fish and Wildlife is looking at increasing the hatchery steelhead daily catch limit very soon on the Cowlitz.
The Columbia River spring chinook prediction is 312,600, and if the run comes in as predicted it would be the sixth-largest return since 1980.
Fishing below Bonneville Dam is open through April 10 -- but closed March 31 and April 7 -- with a one hatchery-marked spring chinook daily limit.
The spring chinook fishery above Bonneville Dam is open through May 6, but on the slow side both in the mainstem and Wind River and Drano Lake. Don't expect much action until later in April and early May.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs