Gill-netting on Lower Columbia River
by Bill Monroe
There will be no commercial gill-net fishing Tuesday on the lower Columbia River -- or sportfishing, either.
Oregon and Washington set aside Tuesdays in March for commercial fishing, but the states decided in a telephone conference call Monday afternoon there were too few salmon -- and too many steelhead -- in the lower river.
Three gill-net boats test-netted 11 drifts Sunday and caught two chinook and 16 steelhead. One of the chinook and four of the steelhead had unclipped adipose fins, suggesting they were not from a hatchery.
Biologists said eight spring chinook have crossed Bonneville Dam. A comparable Bonneville Dam count for the same period in 2001, the last major run into the river, was more than 300.
John North, a biologist on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Columbia River management team, said it's too soon to get too worried about the low number of fish, although he said, "I thought there might be more by now."
North pointed out only three gill-net boats did the test-netting, and only a small area of the lower Columbia River (below the mouth of the Willamette River) was covered.
Despite the decision to not allow gill-netting, the lower river will not open to sportfishing Tuesday. The Tuesday closures were already decided, North said, and less than a day is too short notice.
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