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Spring Chinook Fishing Opens on Columbia

by Allen Thomas
The Columbian, June 6, 2007

With just 10 days left in the season, spring chinook salmon fishing opened this morning in the Columbia River between Interstate 5 and McNary Dam.

Washington and Oregon officials made the decision to open Tuesday after state and tribal biologists upgraded slightly the upper Columbia spring chinook run from the original forecast of 78,500 to between 80,500 and 84,000.

Spring salmon angling did not open this year between Interstate 5 and Bonneville Dam because of the sub-par forecast and high catch rate that occurs where the fish stack up downstream of the dam.

Fishing between Bonneville and McNary closed beginning May 4 to avoid exceeding harvest ceilings.

Limiting the lower Columbia catch to downstream of I-5 extends the fishery by diluting the harvest of upper Columbia chinook with salmon destined for the Willamette, Kalama, Cowlitz and Lewis rivers.

John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the sport fleet between I-5 and Bonneville Dam will handle about 300 chinook a week, while the fishery between Bonneville and McNary will handle about 125 chinook per week.

The limit is two chinook daily, but they must have clipped adipose fins.

June 15 ends the spring chinook management period.

Fishing for summer chinook in the lower Columbia will be allowed June 16 to 30, with a two-fish limit. Any chinook, not just those with clipped adipose fins, can be kept from June 16 to 30.

Curt Melcher of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said if the summer run appears larger than forecast, or the sport catch is less than anticipated, angling might be extended beyond June 30.

Summer chinook fishing upstream of Bonneville Dam will be allowed June 16 to July 31.

Forecasts, harvests and run updates are critical in this era of salmon management under the federal Endangered Species Act, where fishing opportunities are contingent on the strength of various returns and can change on a weekly basis.

Salmon retention for fall chinook opens Aug. 1.

Summer chinook in the Columbia River are headed mostly for waters upstream of Priest Rapids Dam and - after three decades of rebuilding - are not listed under the Endangered Species Act.

A teleconference is scheduled on June 14 to adopt commercial fishing periods for summer chinook in the lower Columbia.

Allen Thomas
Spring Chinook Fishing Opens on Columbia
The Columbian, June 6, 2007

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