Summer Chinook Fishing Stays Open
by Allen Thomas
Summer chinook fishing in the lower Columbia River will stay open at least through Thursday, and possibly even later into July.
State, federal and tribal biologists on Thursday upgraded the summer chinook projection to 93,000.
Originally, the forecast was 49,000. That was increased to at least 70,000 on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, it looked like sportsmen in the lower Columbia might be near filling their catch allocation. With the increased run, the allocation gets larger. Officials will review the run and sport catches at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Summer chinook pass Bonneville Dam between June 16 and July 31 headed for tributaries upstream of Priest Rapids Dam near the Tri-Cities.
The harvest of summer chinook is determined by a complicated formula splitting the surplus in differing proportions between tribes upstream of Priest Rapids Dam, sportsmen upstream of Priest Rapids, mid-Columbia tribes and sportsmen and gillnetters downstream of Bonneville Dam.
If the run is 93,000, the sport allocation in the Columbia downstream of Priest Rapids Dam is 5,200 to 5,300, said Robin Ehlke of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The sport fleet between Bonneville Dam and the ocean is projected to have landed 3,400 chinook through today and 4,600 through Tuesday, she said.
About 100 to 300 summer chinook are set aside for the area between Bonneville and Priest Rapids dams.
Catches are expected to slow in July. About half the summer chinook pass Bonneville Dam by July 1. In addition to fewer fish in the lower Columbia, warmer water tends to slow the bite.
Sportsmen are projected to catch 5,500 summer chinook if the season remaines open through July 31.
Trey Carskadon, who represents a boat manufacturers, urged Washington and Oregon officials to keep fishing open at least through the Fourth of July holiday on Tuesday.
Boat manufacturers have been making layoffs in Oregon due to overstocked dealer inventories and uncertain sales as a result of instability in fishing seasons, he said.
Sheila Cannon, operator of The Fishery boat ramp downstream of Bonneville Dam on the Oregon side, said the summer chinook season has been an economic help after no spring chinook season in the Columbia Gorge.
"I'm really enjoying having a salmon season up here,'' Cannon said.
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