Lower Columbia Catch Rates
by Mark Yuasa
The spring chinook fishery on the Lower Columbia River continues to draw plenty of angler attention, and catch rates picked up dramatically in recent days.
"I went out and played (Wednesday) morning around Davis Bar (below the I-5 Bridge), and we got one (hatchery-marked) spring chinook about 18 to 20 pounds, and had a chance at another one," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
"The Columbia (water clarity) cleared up, but the Willamette River remains dirty, and all the catches were happening between I-5 and the Lewis River. It has been pretty good fishing the last couple of days."
Hymer says based on the sport catches the past few days success has increased a lot in the Lower Columbia, with some averaging a fish per boat to as good as one fish per rod in the Vancouver area. The commercial test fishery Sunday did well, and a full commercial fleet fished the lower river Wednesday night.
Through March 31, there have been an estimated 71,050 angler trips with 6,885 adult chinook kept and 1,055 released.
Through April 6, 1,449 adult spring chinook have passed above Bonneville Dam. During the most recent five years, run timing at Bonneville has been late-timed, when compared to 10-year averages, and to timing since 1980.
Hymer says it is still too early to make any conclusions yet regarding an updated run size.
Chinook handle (kept plus release mortalities) of upriver spring chinook stock totals 3,900 fish, or 23 percent of the 17,200 available before a run update.
Through March 28, sport effort and chinook catch were tracking closely with preseason predictions.
The Willamette River in Oregon has also been fishing fairly good for spring chinook. Catches picked up for spring chinook and steelhead in the Cowlitz at Blue Creek and Barrier Dam, and in the Kalama. Still spotty in the Lewis, but some spring chinook caught of late.
The Columbia from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is open daily through April 18. Areas from I-5 to the I-205 Bridge and up to Bonneville Dam are now closed.
Areas from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam are open daily through May 31. It is bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines, six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.
The Wind River and Drano Lake are also open daily, but don't expect those spring-chinook fisheries to blossom until early May or when fish count surges at Bonneville.
Daily limit is one hatchery-marked spring chinook below I-5, and two fish daily above Bonneville.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs