Buoy 10: Popular
by Allen Thomas
Salmon angling in the Columbia River and its tributaries shifts gears Friday with the arrival of August, including the opening of the popular Buoy 10 season and a plethora of rule changes.
Aug. 1 marks the transition from summer salmon management to fall regulations. A decent return of 376,800 fall chinook is forecast to enter the Columbia between now and November.
Robin Ehlke of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the fall chinook forecast is much better than the 219,600 fish that returned in 2007, but only 75 percent of the average of the past decade.
Coho forecasts are in the toilet, however, with a horrible return of 164,800 forecast for 2008. That's less than 40 percent of the 10-year average. Here's a look at what's ahead in the coming three months:
- Buoy 10 - The lower 16 miles of the Columbia, from Buoy No. 10 where the river meets the ocean upstream to Tongue Point in Oregon and Rocky Point in Washington, is open for salmon on Friday.
The bag limit is two salmon, but only one chinook. Minimum sizes are 16 inches for coho and 24 inches for chinook.
Barbed hooks are allowed at Buoy 10. Anglers may fish with either a freshwater, saltwater or combination license. Everybody on the boat can keep fishing until the daily limit for all aboard is achieved.
Any chinook can be kept, but only fin-clipped coho.
Chinook retention at Buoy 10 is Friday through Sept. 1, which is Labor Day. Beginning Sept. 2, chinook must be released.
While Buoy 10 opens for salmon on Friday, it's not necessary to hustle to the coast right away. The first two weeks of the month generally produce a meager catch.
This year's Buoy 10 fishery should benefit from an estimated return of 86,200 chinook bound for Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery in eastern Skamania County. Sampling has shown Spring Creek chinook contribute a large percentage to the catch off the southern Washington coast and at Buoy 10.
"The goal is to target those healthy upriver hatchery stocks, which tend to bite well when they first enter the river," said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We're also expecting a strong return of chinook reared in net pens in select areas throughout the lower river."
- Lower Columbia - Traditionally, chinook retention between a line stretching between Rocky Point in Washington and Tongue Point in Oregon (just east of Astoria) upstream to Bonneville Dam opened for chinook on Aug. 1.
But not this year.
All chinook must be released except during Sept. 1-16. The change is designed primarily to protect wild fish headed for the Snake River, a stock listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
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