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Harvest Managers' Update Documents Excellent
Columbia River Fishing During 2014 Late Summer, Fall

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 17, 2014

Cleaned Fall Chinook With the Columbia River fall chinook salmon return nudging up close to the modern-day record, and a coho return much better than forecast in preseason, fishing was very good this late summer and fall on the lower river and elsewhere.

As an example, anglers at the popular Buoy 10 fishery in the lowermost river had caught an estimated 29,900 fall chinook and 59,000 coho (including release mortalities) through Sept. 30, according to an Oct. 16 fall update produced by the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife. That fishery is open through year's end but current effort is described as "minimal."

That compares to a catch last year of 22,594 for the 2013 season on what was a record fall chinook return.

This year's chinook catch ranks third on an ODFW-WDFW list dating back to 1982. The 2014 catch was made during 100,800 angler trips to Buoy 10.

Anglers in the "lower" Columbia mainstem fishery, which also remains open, had caught an estimated 28,200 chinook and 8,100 coho through Oct. 12 during 145,000 angler trips. That would be the second largest fall chinook sport catch on a list that goes back to 1980. The top catch was 31,879 last year.

The 2014 Columbia River fall chinook return to the mouth of the Columbia in the most recently forecast is projected to reach 1,153,000 adult fish, including 658,100 upriver brights compared to the preseason forecast of 1,510,600 chinook (919,000 URBs). URBs are fall chinook headed for hatcheries and spawning grounds upstream of Bonneville, which is located at Columbia river mile 146.

The total 2013 Columbia River fall chinook adult return was 1,268,400 adults, which was the largest in recent history (back to at least 1938).

Non-tribal commercial fishers have also hauled in thousands of fish.

The "early fall" season consisted of three fishing periods per week in Zones 4-5 during August 3-29 and a final period on Sept. 1. The non-tribal gill-net fleet caught 47,700 chinook, and 1,000 coho. That chinook catch was the second highest during the early fall period on a list back to 1985, according to the 2014 Fall Joint State Staff Report.

During the late fall period that began Sept. 14, the non-tribal commercial boats fished in Zones 4-5 during nine fishing periods through Oct. 10, and are currently scheduled to continue with three periods per week through Oct. 24. Catch is projected to total 50,000 chinook and 7,500 coho for all periods, according to the update. Zones 4-5 stretch from river mile 87.5 near the mouth of Washington's Lewis River up to Beacon Rock at river mile 141.1.

Mainstem coho-directed non-tribal commercial fishing periods began Oct 1. Fishing periods occur in Zones 1-3 using either the traditional 6-inch gear or 3¾-inch tangle-net gear. Fishing periods utilizing tangle-net gear are mark-selective for coho, requiring the release of unclipped coho.

A total of seven tangle-net fishing periods occurred between Oct. 1 and Oct. 14. Two additional periods are scheduled for Oct. 20 and Oct. 21. Catch is projected to total 17,000 coho (4,000 released) and 2,000 chinook for all periods.

Beginning Oct. 9, fishing periods using traditional 6-inch gear are scheduled to occur 2-3 days per week through October 24. Catch is projected to total 31,000 coho and 1,300 chinook for all periods.

Harvest to date is within expectations and the season is expected to continue as scheduled (through Oct. 24), according to the update.

Harvestable coho may remain available upon conclusion of the scheduled fishing periods.

A pilot research seine fishery occurred during Aug. 3 through Sept. 24. The fishery was limited entry and individual fish quotas were assigned to each of the 10 permits issued. Landed catch includes 2,400 hatchery adult chinook and 1,000 hatchery adult coho. Released fish include 4,200 unclipped adult chinook and 2,200 unclipped adult coho.

The permit application said that purse seiners (4) would be allowed to harvest of 750 adult chinook and beach seiners (6) about 500 for each permit. Average coho landings were expected to be about 200 per permit.

Non-tribal gill-netters fishing four so-called "Select Areas" -- off-channel sites in the lower estuary -- hit a coho jackpot this year. Those fisheries are ongoing and generally are scheduled to continue through October, but the catch of both chinook and coho have exceeded expectations to date, according to the fact sheet. Combined catch includes 24,200 chinook and 161,600 coho through Oct. 12.

That's the most coho by far caught in the Youngs Bay, Tongue Point, Blind Slough and Deep River during the 2006-2014 period. Next best was 80,950 in 2009. This year's chinook catch is third best annual total during those nine years.

Harvest Managers' Update Documents Excellent Columbia River Fishing During 2014 Late Summer, Fall
Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 17, 2014

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