Two Days of Gillnets Approvedby Allen Thomas, Columbian staff writer
The Columbian, June 29, 2004
Two days of gillnet fishing Wednesday and Friday in the lower Columbia River have been adopted to allow the commercial fleet a small share of a larger-than-expected sockeye salmon run.
Netting will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day downstream of the Longview Bridge with 41/2-inch mesh nets, Washington and Oregon fishery officials agreed Monday.
The 20 to 40 vessels expected to participate are projected to handle about 1,000 sockeye and 800 summer chinook. All sockeye may be kept, but only summer chinook with clipped adipose fins may be retained. It is anticipated half the chinook will have to be released.
Commercial sockeye seasons are not rare, but are not common occurences, either.
Sockeye are 3- to 4-pound salmon destined primarily for the Wenatchee and Okanogan rivers of Eastern Washington, plus a handful headed to the upper Snake River. Although small, they are excellent table fare.
Sockeye move through the lower Columbia primarily in June.
A run of 80,700 sockeye was forecast originally for the Columbia River, but that has been upgraded to a projected 115,000, said Cindy LeFleur of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The spawning goal is to have 75,000 pass Bonneville Dam, which leaves about 40,000 surplus.
Les Clark of the Northwest Gillnetters Association said fishing at the end of June in the lower Columbia is too late for any substantial sockeye catch.
With the Columbia clear and dropping, the sockeye will be scattered rather than concentrate along shore, he added.
State officials also adopted sport-fishing regulations to allow anglers to retain sockeye starting Wednesday from the Rocky Point-Tongue Point line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco.
Sockeye do not bite on sport gear until in large concentrations, such as in Lake Wenatchee. The sport catch is expected to range between 100 and 200 sockeye.
State biologists also reviewed the summer chinook run, but decided to stay with the original forecast of 102,800, LeFleur said.
The commercials are expected to get about $2.50 a pound for their sockeye and $3.50 a pound for summer chinook.
Tribal season Indian fishermen in the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day pools will fish from 6 a.m. Wednesday through 6 p.m. Friday. They are expected to catch 3,200 to 4,000 sockeye and 1,000 to 1,500 summer chinook.
Fishery Fact Sheet
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