The wait is over for the arrival of Columbia River spring chinook.
"It is definitely time to go fishing," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "In some spots we're seeing catch averages of up to one spring chinook per boat, and others are doing even better than the norm."
Hymer said that sports fishing in the lower river started slowly this year partly because the commercial fishery ended later than in previous years.
The Bonneville Dam fish counts improved from about 415 fish per day last week to 800 fish on Tuesday. Water conditions are ideal with low flows and good visibility.
Fishing has been good around Kelso, Camas, Vancouver, the mouth of the Willamette and Cowlitz rivers, and in the Columbia up to Bonneville Dam.
Bank fishing, however, is slow below Bonneville.
Last year, commercial fishers caught between 5,000 and 6,000 fish on the Columbia in what turned out to be a record run of 508,000 fish, the largest return since counting began at Bonneville in 1938. This year's run is predicted to be 418,500 fish.
Commercial fishers are tagging 3,000 fish with colored jaw tags to determine the survival rate of fish caught in their tangle nets, then released. Sports anglers who catch the tagged fish are asked to call fisheries at 360-902-2732.
During March, sports anglers kept an estimated 2,000 fish and released 1,800. The sports quota this year is 21,000 fish.
Top fishing spots
Other fishing spots
- Trout and warmwater fish in statewide lakes — "Pass (near Deception Pass) and Lone (on Whidbey Island) lakes are the most consistent producers of trout for fly anglers," said Kim Weymouth at Skagit Fly Anglers in Mount Vernon.
Lakes planted with trout are Green in North Seattle, Twelve, Kitsap, Morton, Bonney, Harts, Wapato, Waughop, Kapowsin, Spanaway and Ohop.
In Mason County, Island, Isabella and Nahwhatzel were also planted with trout.
Southwest Washington lakes planted are Horseshoe near Woodland, 4,000 trout; Silver near Castle Rock, 3,300; and South Lewis County Pond near Toledo, 3,100. Kress Lake near Kalama was good for planted steelhead, and Klineline Pond is good for trout.
In Eastern Washington, the Potholes Reservoir at Mar Don Resort will be planted today with thousands of 8- to 10-inch trout. The warm weather should increase catch rates in the Columbia Basin at Hamptons, Caliche, Martha, Burke and Pillar-Widgeon lakes. Spectacle Lakes is good for rainbows.
Rock Lake in Whitman County was planted with 12,000 fish, and Newman Lake, east of Spokane, will get 10,000 trout around April 10.
- Steelhead in north coastal rivers — "Steelhead fishing remains decent, and the Hoh (River) is your best bet," said Bob Gooding, owner of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks.
Bogachiel and Calawah are fair for steelhead, while Soleduck has been slow.
- Blackmouth in marine waters — "The season ends April 10, but it has improved at Possession Bar and the San Juan Islands," said Tony Floor, a state Fish and Wildlife spokesman.
In the San Juan Islands hit Coyote Bank, Middle Bank, Spring Pass, Fidalgo Head, Thatcher Pass, President Channel.
Also try Point No Point, Camano Head, Point Defiance Park, Quartermaster Harbor, Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend, Jefferson Head, Southworth, West Point south of Shilshole Bay and Manchester.
In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, "blackmouth fishing has been on the slow side, but the ones caught are big and I've seen some weighing in the mid-20-pound range," said Chris Mohr, owner of Van Riper's Resort in Sekiu. The Sekiu Salmon Derby is Saturday and Sunday.
In Port Angeles fishing has been fair to good off Winter Hole.
- Hood Canal — Slow for blackmouth.
- Skagit River — "Pretty quiet for steelhead, but the river above The Dalles is full of dolly varden trout," Weymouth said.
- Klickitat River — Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for salmon and steelhead below the Fisher Hill Bridge. Light water flow.
- Kalama River — Fair for steelhead.
- Lewis River — Slow for steelhead.
- Cowlitz River — Fair for steelhead and a few spring chinook
Better Late Than Never for Spring Chinook
Seattle Times, April 4, 2002
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