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High Chinook Volume
Adds to Fishing Time

by Staff
Wahkiakum County Eagle, May 14, 2015

High chinook volume adds to fishing time

A small boat load of young anglers display their catch of Chinook salmon. With spring chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam in higher numbers than expected, fish managers from Washington and Oregon last week agreed to extend the fishing season on the Columbia River for miles below and above the dam.

The decision to extend the fishery was based on a new annual run forecast of 241,000 adult upriver fish past Bonneville Dam - 8,500 more than originally projected, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"This is definitely turning out to be a great year for spring chinook fishing on the Columbia River," Roler said. "We are now confident that the run will not only meet -- but exceed -- the pre-season forecast, which allows us to make more fish available for the harvest."

Year-to-date 162,939 adult spring chinook have been counted passing Bonneville Dam. After a flurry of fish on April 30 -- 13,676 fish -- numbers have dropped at Bonneville to: May 1, 6140 fish; May 2, 2940 fish; May 3, 2623 fish; May 4, 3198 fish; May 5, 3199 fish; May 6, 3013 fish; May 7, 2694 fish.

Year-to-date (May 7) adult spring chinook passage at McNary Dam is 103,167 fish.

In the lower river, the fishery reopened on May 9, for one day, and opens again from May 16 through June 15 from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Beacon Rock for boat and bank anglers. Bank anglers can also fish farther upriver to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Unlike waters above Bonneville Dam, the lower river has been closed to spring chinook fishing since May 4. Roler said fishery managers agreed to open the lower river May 9 for one day, and will provide several weeks of additional fishing opportunities starting May 16 to coincide with the opening of the steelhead fishery.

"That makes sense, because it also brings the fishery up to the start of the summer chinook season on June 16," Roler said. "With this year's strong spring chinook run, anglers will be able to move from one salmon fishery to the next without skipping a beat."

In addition, a treaty spring gillnet commercial fishery was set for May 12-15 from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam.

Also, a non-Indian gillnet commercial fishery in the lower Columbia was set for May 6-7. Another was scheduled for Tuesday night this week.

Meanwhile, fisheries managers on Wednesday decided to close spring chinook fishing on the Snake River below Ice Harbor and Little Goose dams, but keep unchanged fishing in the Lower Granite and Clarkston areas.

Three mainstem commercial salmon fishing periods have occurred through May 8. Landings from the first two periods totaled 1,737 adult chinook. Landings from the third period (May 4) are still being calculated, but appear to be within expectations at around 1,280 chinook. Kept and release mortalities of upriver chinook is estimated at 2,436 fish, or 54 percent of the current allocation of 4,493 fish.

Select Area fisheries are ongoing and expected to continue through June 13. Combined winter-spring landings through May 3 total 3,173 chinook. Upriver chinook mortalities total 273 compared to the current allocation of 362 fish.

The lower Columbia River recreational chinook fishery was open from January 1 through April 11, and was also open on April 16 and May 2-3. Catch estimates total 15,073 kept and 2,634 released adult fish from 107,634 angler trips. Kept and release mortalities of upriver chinook is estimated at 11,686 fish, or 75 percent of the current allocation of 15,506 fish.

The lower Columbia River from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to the I-5 Bridge will open May 16 for hatchery steelhead and hatchery jack chinook. Shad retention opens May 16 from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam under permanent regulations.

Anglers should check with state fish and game departments for the latest changes in seasons.

High Chinook Volume Adds to Fishing Time
Wahkiakum County Eagle, May 14, 2015

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