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Salmon Season Opens Sunday

by Staff
The Daily News of Longview Washington, July 30, 2004

(Bill Wagner) Julian Becker, right, of The Netherlands and Foti Lanaras of Portland hang their catch this week in Ilwaco after an ocean trip. Starting Sunday, anglers who don't want to cross the bar may catch salmon on the lower Columbia and at the Buoy 10 area. Last year, salmon fishing was red-hot on the lower Columbia River, as near-record runs of chinook and coho swam upstream.

This fall, the fishing will cool off somewhat, according to predictions from fisheries biologists.

Only about one-third as many coho are expected to return to the lower river this year compared to last season, while the chinook return will be about two-thirds the size of last year's run.

Still, the Buoy 10 area near the river's mouth should be a busy place. In its preseason report released recently, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife predicted that 12,000 chinook and 16,000 coho will be reeled in from Buoy 10 this year.

The lower Columbia River and Buoy 10 salmon seasons will get underway Sunday.

As it did last year, the Buoy 10 area, which includes the lower 16 miles of the river, will have a one-chinook limit.

This year, the one-chinook limit is extended to the part of the river from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near Astoria. In past years, there was a two-chinook limit.

Cindy LeFleur, the DFW Columbia River policy coordinator, said the department worked with sport fishermen earlier this year to formulate the regulation. "When it came down to a choice between a shorter season with a larger limit, or shooting for an uninterrupted season with a one-chinook limit, they let us know they'd rather see the season run longer," LeFleur said.

However, Liz Hamilton, director of Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, said "we weren't happy with the one-fish bag. We think our industry is cut to the bone."

The season should last through December because of the tighter bag limit, LeFleur said, though the DFW will curtail the season early if too many protected upriver fish are caught.

This year's Columbia River salmon forecast predicts 635,000 fall chinook will return to the mouth of the river, which is 28 percent less than 2003's actual return of 885,000 fish. The chinook run still is expected to be the fifth-largest since 1948.

The forecast for coho to the mouth of the Columbia is 257,500 coho, which is only 37 percent as much as last year's return of 694,800.

The coho run is estimated to be the smallest run since 1999, though about double the average during the lean years of 1993-1998.

There's good news, too. Steelhead anglers can look forward to a run of 388,100 fish passing Bonneville Dam, which is 9 percent more than last year's run.

Though the DFW doesn't make official estimates of the fall chinook returns to tributaries, fishing in them will be down roughly in proportion to the drop in overall numbers, LeFleur said.

This year's lower Columbia fishery from Bonneville to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line is expected to produce catches of 15,000 chinook, compared to 26,200 last year. The coho catch this year is expected to be around 3,000.

Anglers are expected to do better on chinook at Buoy 10, where the fishery is expected to produce catches of 12,000 chinook. Last year 16,300 chinook were caught, the second-highest number since 1988.

But this year's expected Buoy 10 catch of coho, 16,000 coho, is less than one-third the catch last year.

Columbia River anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream can keep chinook with or without clipped adipose fins, but only adipose-fin-clipped coho may be retained.

As was started last year, in both Oregon and Washington, Buoy 10 boat fishers can keep their gear in the water until the daily limits for all anglers on board have been reached.

When the Buoy 10 fishery or the Marine Area 1 fishery is open, bank anglers may also fish for salmon seven days a week at the Columbia River north jetty.

Daily-limit and minimum-size requirements follow the most liberal regulations of either area. Salmon anglers may use barbed hooks at Buoy 10 and on the north jetty.

Tributaries also open

Fall salmon seasons also begin Sunday on several Columbia River tributaries, including the Cowlitz, Toutle, Green, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal, Wind and Klickitat rivers and Drano Lake. The daily limits on those rivers remain six salmon, no more than two of which may be adults. Up to two adult chinook may be retained. Any chinook, fin-clipped or not, may be kept. Wild coho must be released in tributaries below Bonneville Dam.

Salmon Season Opens Sunday
The Daily News, July 30, 2004

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