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Solid Run of Kings Hits Columbia

by Greg Johnston
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 15, 2006

What appears to be a solid run of summer chinook has moved into the lower Columbia River to provide some fast action at times for anglers.

Checks by state catch samplers last week just downstream of Bonneville Dam tell the story: 42 bank anglers checked with 42 chinook, although 34 of them were unmarked and had to be released. That changes on Friday, when the marked-chinook-only rule in the lower Columbia drops off and any adult chinook becomes fair game.

Checks at points downstream last week showed a handful of chinook taken off Longview and Vancouver.

"The thing is, the ones they're catching are big fish," said Steve Watrous, an angler from Vancouver who fishes the big river regularly. "I know of a 40-pounder and another at 50 -- these are from friends I trust."

Tony Floor, recreational fishing representative for the Northwest Marine Trade Association, said he'd heard good reports from the area.

"My trap line suggests there are some big, bright, beautiful summer chinook salmon going over Bonneville," he said. "I know of one guy who brought six kings to the boat and ended up with four."

Counts at the Bonneville Dam fish ladders began surging about two weeks ago, and have been running in the 2,000- to 3,500-fish range daily since last weekend. The summer kings are mostly bound for upper Columbia tributaries, and are not from federally protected Snake River stocks. Most of the Snake River fish have already moved upstream, which is why the marked chinook rule ends Friday.

Elsewhere, there was a brief flurry of good summer chinook fishing late last week in the Skagit River, although reports over the past several days indicate it has slowed, probably due to snowmelt-boosted high and turbid flows. Locally, part of the Skykomish River is open for summer chinook, but it's been slow.

The saltwater salmon scene is slow. Catch area 11, Vashon/Tacoma, is open, and the Point Defiance area had some decent days for chinook last week. However, it has slowed over the past few days, perhaps because of this week's extreme tides.

"It's not good," said Art Tatchell at Point Defiance Park Boathouse. "The last two or three days have been on the quiet side, and the dogfish have moved in."

A few chinook have been taken just north along the east shore of Vashon Island, at Dolphin Point and a couple of other spots, but fishing is skinny there.

The "Tulalip bubble" fishery in Tulalip Bay remains mostly slow, but has produced some decent kings off and on, with Monday reportedly a good day.

Down south, the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis and especially the Klickitat rivers are producing a few spring chinook.

Greg Johnston
Solid Run of Kings Hits Columbia
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 15, 2006

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