'Fish On'by Jessica Keller
Hermiston Herald, April 24, 2015
Anglers enjoy fishing on the banks of the Columbia River below McNary Dam.
Most days this spring, Hermiston residents Andrew Barboe, Jessy Norton, his father and brother and an assortment of friends will be found on the banks of the Columbia River. They gather below McNary Dam with rods, reels and bait, trying their luck hauling in spring Chinook salmon.
They've already had quite a bit of luck this season, which ends May 15. Thursday, the fishermen quickly reached their one fish a day permitted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"There's lots of happy fisherman today," Mike Norton, Jessy's father, said after admiring two salmon caught by friends Barboe and John Addleman of Oregon City.
Mike Norton has been coming to the Columbia River, below the dam, for the last 25 years, mostly because it's convenient, but also because it yields fish. He said he and his family also fish in other parts of Oregon, but they prefer McNary Dam.
The fishermen said this year has been especially fruitful.
Barboe said the fish, including the two he and Addleman caught Thursday, have been weighing between 8 and 12 pounds and have typically been between 27 and 34 inches.
Jessy Norton said the fish have been bigger than usual for springtime. While the catches have been nice, the pastime is even better.
"It's just relaxing, something you go out and do for fun," he said, adding fishing also doesn't have to be very expensive, depending on the supplies brought. "Sometimes you just spend a couple bucks to throw a pole in the water and spend some time with your friends and family.
"Then some just like to come and watch and hang out and enjoy all the commotion going on," he added.
Norton said the area below McNary Dam on the Columbia is full of commotion this time of year as it's popular among fishermen.
"McNary is one of the best battle grounds," he said.
Of course, that could change this spring as the ODFW announced Thursday it will begin transporting returning adult spring Chinook salmon from Threemile Dam directly to spawning areas in the upper watershed.
"Low water levels and high water temperatures can have tragic consequences for spring Chinook migrating to their natal waters," Bill Duke, ODFW fish biologist in Pendleton, said in a press release. "To ensure these Chinook reach critical holding and spawning areas, we will begin trucking them from the dam beginning this week."
Regardless, the Nortons and their friends will enjoy the rest of the spring fishing season. Mike Norton said they will return to the area in June when it's time for fishing June hogs, referring to the summer Chinook salmon.
"They're a little bigger than the spring Chinook, and they're a lot harder to catch," he said. "The water's a lot warmer then. They don't like to bite like the spring Chinook."
If you want to fish
For more information on fishing in Oregon, go to the ODFW website, www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/.
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