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Best Bets: Fish Offut Lake

by Jordan Nailon
Nisqually Valley News, May 8, 2014

Graphic: Spring chinook counts over Ice Harbor Dam as of May 8, 2014. (Fish Passage Center) The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week anglers will have two additional days for spring chinook fishing on the lower Columbia River on Friday, May 9 and Saturday May 10.

Anglers will be allowed to harvest either one marked hatchery chinook, or two hatchery winter steelhead, or a combination of one hatchery chinook and one hatchery steelhead.

The portion of the river that will be open to boats during the season extension runs from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Rooster Rock. Bank anglers will be allowed even more access upriver, all the way to the deadline below Bonneville Dam.

"The dam counts have been excellent," said Charles McElroy from the Sporting Goods desk at Sunbirds in Chehalis. "They were about 85,000 last week." Due to the large numbers of fish making that passage, McElroy expects the two-day opener on the lower Columbia to be good fishing.

"Although they did let the commercials go in there today, and I don't know why. The commercials already have their quota," lamented McElroy. "If they were going to do that, they should have done it after the sports guys were done. But the water's still up and they're (the fish) moving, so that gives a few days to get more fish moving in."

In a press release, Ron Roler, fishery manager for the WDFW, indicated that additional days for fishing on the lower Columbia may become available following discussions between Oregon and Washington representatives early next week. The decision will hinge largely upon the number of spring chinook counted crossing the Bonneville Dam between now and then.

"We're taking this a couple of days at a time," Roler said in the press release. "We want to give anglers as many days on the water as we can without exceeding the catch guidelines."

Spring chinook season upriver of the Bonneville Dam will not be affected by the two-day extension on the lower Columbia. That season is scheduled to run through May 9.

In the meantime, fishing for salmonoids in The Dalles and John Day pools has been keeping anglers satiated. Bank anglers in The Dalles Pool were averaging 0.33 springers caught per rod, while their boat flotilla counterparts landed an average of 1.2 spring chinook per boat. Things were slightly less active at the John Day Pool, where bank anglers averaged 0.19 springers per rod and boat casters were averaging 0.48 spring chinook landed per vessel. According to the WDFW provided numbers, 109,573 spring chinook have successfully navigated passage over Bonneville Dam so far this year.

Walleye and Bass fishing continue to keep things interesting for anglers up near the dams as well, with boat anglers in The Dalles Pool averaging more than five bass and almost two walleye per rod, and boat anglers in the John Day Pool were averaging about 0.5 walleye landed per rod, while the few bass anglers were catching and releasing more than seven fish per rod.

. . .

Jordan Nailon
Best Bets: Fish Offut Lake
Nisqually Valley News, May 8, 2014

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