Columbia Spring Chinook Still Lagging
by Rich Landers
Spokesman-Review, April 21, 2011
SALMON FISHING -- Anglers in the Columbia Gorge reservoirs will get seven additional days to fish for a lagging spring chinook salmon run. Washington and Oregon officials on Wednesday added April 25-May 1 to the fishing season for the Columbia between Bonneville Dam and the state line upstream of McNary Dam.
Fishing for salmon was scheduled to close beginning Monday.
Even though fish counts over dams are minimal, Washington is opening Snake River chinook seasons in phases this week, with Idaho's seasons opening on Saturday.
Allen Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian reports that only 1,803 spring chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam through Tuesday compared with the 10-year average of 48,532.
Only a few sportsmen have been fishing the mid-Columbia pools. State biologists estimate about 50 chinook a day will get caught in the pools during the extended season.
The Columbia has been colder, higher and dirtier than normal for April.
Guy Norman, regional director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said those three environmental factors could be slowing passage at Bonneville Dam.
By May 1 the states should know if the spring salmon run is below forecast or late.
Streamflows are starting to drop, the river is clearing and the water is warming, so if the fish are they they ought to start moving soon.
Fishing in the lower Columbia is closed.
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