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Word on Columbia Spring Chinook

by Mark Yuasa
The Seattle Times, February 15, 2009

Washington and Oregon commissioners came to an agreement this past Wednesday on Lower Columbia spring chinook salmon fishing seasons through late-April, but any fishing beyond that date is still up in the air.

"This is shaping up to be a very good year for spring chinook fishing in the Columbia River," said Cindy LeFleur, a state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator. "The first fish have just begun to arrive, and we hope to see a lot more of them in the months ahead."

Currently, hatchery spring chinook fishing is open in the Lower Columbia from I-5 downstream to Buoy-10.

Then fishing below the west power lines on Hayden Island will be open daily through March 1-15, and open Thursdays through Saturdays from March 19-April 18.

Fishing above the power lines from near the BNSF railroad bridge will be open daily March 1-22, then open Wednesdays through Saturdays from March 25-April 22. The daily limit will be two hatchery marked salmon or steelhead, but only one may be a chinook.

The mid-Columbia opens March 16-April 30 between Bonneville and McNary dams. The limit is two fin-clipped salmon or steelhead daily. Fishing from a boat is not allowed between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines, which are about six miles downstream of The Dalles Dam.

Fisheries managers are predicted a huge return of 298,900 upper Columbia spring chinook, but a poor return of 37,000 Willamette spring chinook.

Fishery managers predict 16,000 of these highly prized and tasty spring chinook will be caught before the season closes to avoid going over the Endangered Species Act threshold that protects wild spring chinook.

The Washington and Oregon commissions have been at odds over how much fish could be caught between the sport and commercial fishermen since December. Washington wanted a higher catch for the sport anglers while Oregon leaned toward a more liberal commercial catch.

Mark Yuasa
Word on Columbia Spring Chinook
The Seattle Times, February 15, 2009

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