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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 21, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Spring chinook counts surge at Bonneville Dam, but no decision yet on whether to reopen the lower river

While the Lower Columbia River spring chinook sport fishery has come to a close, all eyes are now on the Bonneville Dam fish counts to see is sometime down the line it could reopen.

Through April 20, the Bonneville Dam passage of adult chinook totals 56,674; and 9,014 was the single-day count on April 20. This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2003 and the eighth highest count to date (1977 to current).

The Technical Advisory Committee from Washington and Oregon state Fish and Wildlife and other co-managers are meeting weekly to review passage at Bonneville Dam, but it is still too early to make any conclusions regarding run size.

Last week anglers on the Lower Columbia below I-5 made 40,600 trips and caught 12,118 spring chinook (10,411 kept and 1,707 released) bringing the cumulative totals to 166,000 trips with 29,143 fish kept and 4,372 released. Based on sampling, upriver spring chinook comprised 83-percent of the kept catch. Overall, the proportion of lower river fish in the catch went up (and the mark rate decreased) as the catch was more evenly distributed throughout the river than the previous week.

Angler effort this spring has been the highest since 2002. The number of kept chinook this spring is a record, with 29,150 kept, compared to the previous high of 25,700 in 2001.

Last Saturday (April 17) alone a total of 2,585 boats and 1,393 bank anglers were counted during the aerial flight. Of those 1,114 (43-percent) of the boats and 490 (35-percent) of the bank anglers were counted from Warrior Rock to the I-5 Bridge.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam — Closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad. Scheduled to reopen May 16 for shad. From the I-5 Bridge downstream, scheduled to reopen May 16 for hatchery steelhead and hatchery Chinook jacks. From the I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam, scheduled to reopen June 16 for hatchery steelhead and hatchery chinook.

Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam — Through May 31, open daily to fishing for hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad. Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines located about 6 miles downstream from The Dalles Dam. Daily salmonid limit is 6 fish (hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead), of which no more than 2 may be hatchery adult chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Release all wild chinook.

Bonneville Pool – Bank anglers just outside Drano Lake are catching some spring chinook. Wind River and Klickitat River are also open to fishing.

The Dalles Pool — Including fish released, bank anglers averaged a spring chinook per every 3 rods. Boat anglers were also catching a few fish. Around ¾ of the fish caught were hatchery fish that were kept.

John Day Pool — The week of April 12-18, an estimated 118 adult hatchery chinook were harvested and seven wild chinook were released. The majority of the harvest were retained by bank anglers fishing the Oregon shore. Washington state Fish and Wildlife staff interviewed 138 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 18 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 129 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and seven wild chinook were released.

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