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Chinook Run Disappointing

by Greg Johnston
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 2, 2007

Fishing on Columbia even worse than feared

Expectations are always high when it comes to spring chinook fishing, which makes this year's run on the Columbia River so disappointing.

Washington and Oregon fish biologists predicted a down year, and so far the fishing has been worse than feared. Anglers enjoy a couple of decent days here and there, and then fishing fizzles.

"Just when you think it's going to take off, the catch goes down again," said Joe Hymer, a biologist at the Vancouver Department of Fish and Wildlife office. "There was a pretty good bite Thursday and Friday down at Cathlamet, and a good bite Monday from Woodland to Vancouver. But then it's followed up by slower results."

The springer run didn't set any records last year either, but there was a sustained period of good fishing in late March. Didn't happen this year.

Estimates by the states are that by the end of March this year, about 1,200 marked hatchery spring chinook were caught on the Columbia after approximately 34,000 "angler-trips." Another 350 springers with intact adipose fins were released. That's not exactly sizzling.

More bad numbers: Through Tuesday, the count from the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam was 94 spring chinook, compared to the 10-year average of 6,598.

At the same time, it might not be like throwing good herring after bad. Springers are such quality fish one makes for a great day, and conditions have improved, with water clarity at Cathlamet now better than 2 feet despite continued high flows.

Best bets will no doubt continue to be the Cathlamet area around Tenasillahe Island, and upstream anywhere between Kalama and Vancouver. Of the tributaries, a decent flurry of springer catches has been reported in the Kalama River since late last week, and the North Fork Lewis is producing a few. It's been skinny so far in the Cowlitz, which was still flowing high on Wednesday at 13,500 cubic feet per second.

A few spring chinook have been taken over the past two weeks in the Sol Duc River.

Greg Johnston
Chinook Run Disappointing
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 2, 2007

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