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Ecology and salmon related articles

Mixed News on Fishing, Digging Opportunities

by Greg Johnston
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - April 21, 2005

Time to update your angler's checklist. Scratch out spring chinook, at least on the Columbia River, closed yesterday due to a weak upriver run. Put a last-chance note on winter steelhead, which is on its last gasp. Pencil in halibut, razor clams and trout, all of which should blossom with forecasts for sunny spring weather.

The bad news first: Oregon and Washington fish managers closed the Columbia from McNary Dam downstream to fishing for salmon, steelhead and shad at the end of the day yesterday because of counts that show the spring chinook run is either very weak or very late. More than 135,000 fish were forecast to return this year to tributaries above Bonneville Dam, but through Tuesday only 2,053 had passed through the dam's fish ladder, compared to the 10-year average for that date of 55,180.

"When you have numbers that low at this point, it's tracking toward a late run," said Cindy LaFluer, Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, who added that lower river spring chinook stocks appear to be holding up better. "It doesn't add up. It's a mystery."

Fishing for hatchery spring chinook will remain open in most tributaries, including the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis and Oregon's Willamette on the lower river, and Wind, Klickitat and Drano Lake upstream of Bonneville.

On the Washington side, the best bet right now is the Cowlitz, which has been fair but spotty recently. The Kalama and Lewis also should kick out their fair share in the coming weeks.

"Usually the last week of April and the first week of May are the best times for springers here," said Karen Glaser at Barrier Dam Campground near the Cowlitz.

There have been a few spring chinook taken at Wind River and Drano Lake already, and though the dam counts don't indicate a flood of fish, it's premature to take them off your list. If the run builds to even modest levels, those two places can still produce good fishing. If and when the dam counts increase markedly -- say to more than 1,000 fish per day -- you might still underline Wind and Drano.

You can track the run here:

Greg Johnston
Mixed News on Fishing, Digging Opportunities
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 21, 2005

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