Fishing Reportby Staff
The Daily News, July 5, 2012
Anglers who fish the lower Columbia River are gearing up for hatchery steelhead now that most salmon-fishing opportunities are moving upstream. Steelhead fishing is expected to heat up now that the summer salmon fishery below Bonneville Dam is closed, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Approximately 364,000 upriver steelhead are expected to enter the Columbia this year, along with thousands more bound for lower-river tributaries, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for WDFW. Those fish, bound for the upper Columbia and Snake rivers, tend to run four to eight pounds apiece.
"This year's return is expected to be about the same as last year's," Hymer said in a news release. "Steelhead tend to run close to shore, so bank anglers will likely have the advantage in the weeks ahead, especially with the river running high and cold."
Anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville can take up to two hatchery steelhead per day as part of their six-fish catch limit, which can also include hatchery jack chinook salmon.
Hymer said fishery managers had hoped to extend the salmon fishery beyond July 1, but bumped into two obstacles. On one hand, only about 54,000 summer chinook returned this year, compared to the pre-season projection of 91,200. That reduced the allowable catch, although anglers fishing the lower river were still expected to take home 2,850 adult hatchery summer chinook by the end of the season.
On the other hand, anglers caught 4,000 sockeye this year, shattering last year's record of 1,300 fish and pushing up against the impact guideline for the lower river. "Those fish were a welcome addition to this year's fishery," Hymer said.
Anglers gearing up for hatchery steelhead should consider fishing area tributaries as well as the mainstem Columbia River, he said. As Hymer sees it, the best bet is probably the Cowlitz River, where fish start arriving in larger numbers early in the month.
Other options include the Lewis (North and East forks), Kalama, Washougal, South Fork Toutle, Green, and Elochoman rivers.
Above Bonneville Dam, fishing seasons remain open for adult hatchery chinook and sockeye salmon, as well as hatchery steelhead. For adult fish, the daily limit remains two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each.
Anglers might also want to try fishing Drano Lake, the lower Wind River or the White Salmon River, where salmon and steelhead have historically dipped in to beat the heat. Just how many enter the White Salmon remains a question, however, since the process of removing Condit Dam filled the mouth of the river with sediment.
"All three of those waters are open for fishing, and we encourage anglers to give them a try," Hymer said. "We planted the White Salmon with hatchery steelhead, and we're very interested to see how anglers do in those waters."
. . .
Ocean: At Ilwaco, the average was about 1 chinook for every other rod last week. Three Ilwaco charter boats venture out for tuna, and customers averaged almost 1 tuna per rod. Westport is open for chinook and hatchery coho Sundays to Thursdays, and Ilwaco, Neah Bay and La Push are open daily.
Columbia River salmonids: 263 bank anglers had 10 chinook, 3 steelhead and 10 sockeye, and 187 boat anglers had 15 chinook, 5 steelhead and 9 sockeye.
Columbia River pikeminnow: Last week at Cathlamet, 91 anglers turned in 757 pikeminnow. At Willow Grove, 100 anglers with 500 fish. At Rainier, 52 anglers with 204 fish. And at Kalama, 52 anglers turned in 392 sleek pikeminnow.
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