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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

September 21, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Columbia River fisheries looking fairly decent heading into fall

The salmon and steelhead fisheries on the mighty Columbia River were pretty successful this summer, and appears they will hold steady heading into fall.

One regulation change is the adult chinook daily catch limit has been rasied on the Lower Columbia River upstream from the mouth of the Lewis River to Bonneville Dam from Wednesday, Sept. 22 through Dec. 31.

Through Sept. 19 there have been an estimated 91,500 salmon angler trips with 13,200 chinook, 5,100 steelhead and 800 coho kept, and 2,900 steelhead and 250 coho released. The preseason total kept chinook catch was expected to be 17,200.

The fall chinook passage at Bonneville Dam from Aug. 1-Sept. 9 totals 354,000 adult chinook including 243,100 bright chinook and 110,900 tule stock chinook. Based on the recent five-year average, adult chinook passage is typically 81-percent complete by Sept. 19.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) made up of Washingto, Oregon and tribal fishery managers met on Sept. 20, and updated the Upriver Bright (URB) chinook river mouth run size to 279,900 fish versus the 319,200 preseason forecast. The Bonneville Pool Hatchery (BPH) chinook tule stock was updated to 123,800 adults at the Columbia River mouth versus the preseason forecast of 162,900.

Fall chinook passage at Lower Granite Dam from Aug. 18-Sept. 19 totals 21,000 adult chinook. Counts in 2009 through the same time were 9,900. The 2010 forecast for Snake River Wild fall chinook (SRW) is 5,300 adults at the Columbia River mouth.

The summer steelhead passage at Bonneville Dam from July 1-Sept. 19 totals 355,900 fish.

The Group A steelhead run to Bonneville Dam was updated to 306,000 fish (preseason forecast 337,500) and Group B steelhead to 52,000 (preseason forecast 99,100).

The coho passage at Bonneville Dam through Sept. 19 totals 43,000 adults. A total of 82,900 adult coho are expected to pass Bonneville Dam in 2010.

Here are the latest sample checks taken by state Fish and Wildlife:

Salmon and steelhead

Grays River: Bank anglers downstream from the weir continue to catch some stray hatchery Select Area bright fall chinook.

Cowlitz River: Anglers on the lower Cowlitz are catching a mixture of fall chinook, coho, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroats. Near the salmon hatchery the catch is primarily fall chinook.

Anglers from boundary markers at the mouth to 400 feet below Mayfield Dam Powerhouse may now retain one wild adult chinook as part of the two adult chinook daily limit.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,583 fall chinook adults, 109 jacks, 75 summer-run steelhead, 23 spring chinook adults, three mini-jacks, 590 coho adults, 75 jacks, and eight sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 18 spring chinook adults, 321 coho adults, 43 jacks, and 18 spring chinook adults into Lake Scanewa, three spring chinook mini-jacks and six cutthroat trout at the Barrier Dam Boat Launch, 1,307 fall chinook adults, 104 jacks, three sea-run cutthroats, 10 coho adults and 2 jacks into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and 240 coho adults, 27 jacks, and two spring chinook adults at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,420 cubic feet per second on Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. Water visibility is 10 feet.

Kalama River: Bank anglers were catching some fall chinook, coho, and steelhead over the weekend. All chinook must now be released through the end of the year.

Lewis River: Effort and catch have increased around the salmon hatchery. Hatchery coho are the primary catch though some hatchery fall chinook and hatchery steelhead are also being caught. Flows below Merwin Dam were approximately 2,700 cfs this morning, slightly above the long-term mean for this date.

Beginning Oct. 1, all chinook must be released from the mainstem and North Fork Lewis and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream to Colvin Creek. In addition, the area from Colvin Creek upstream to Merwin Dam closes to all angling from October through mid December.

Washougal River: Good for fall chinook earlier last week. Approximately 3,000 fish had entered the hatchery later in the week.

Drano Lake: No report on angling success. In October, fishing is closed 6 pm Tuesdays to 6 pm Wednesdays.

Bonneville Pool: Approximately 50 boats off the mouth of the Klickitat last Saturday September 18. Anglers are catching some fall chinook.

Lower Columbia River mouth at Buoy 10: Continues to be slow for hatchery coho. Effort remains light.

Effective Oct. 1, the salmon and steelhead daily limit increases to 6 fish of which 2 may be adult hatchery coho or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Salmon minimum size is 12 inches. Release all salmon other than hatchery coho.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam: In general, success for fall chinook was best for boat anglers in Vancouver and just below Bonneville Dam with ½ fish per boat average while boaters at the mouth of the Cowlitz averaged about an adult coho per boat.

State Fish and Wildlife sampled 119 salmon bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line with 6 adult and 1 jack fall chinook and 2 steelhead, an average of a salmon kept per every 13.2 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 417 salmon boat anglers (194 boats) with 54 adult and 6 jack fall chinook, 33 adult coho, and 7 steelhead, an average of a salmon kept/released per every 4.2 rods based on mainly completed trips. About half the adult coho caught were kept.

Hanford Reach area: State Fish and Wildlife staff interviewed 347 boats with 807 anglers and a catch of 322 chinook, one coho and 17 steelhead kept last week in the Hanford Reach.

White Bluffs and Vernita boat ramps showed the highest catch rates with Ringold also showing good catches as well.

Chinook effort and catch are up from last year. State Fish and Wildlife interviewed 204 boats with 183 chinook and one coho kept during the same week in 2009.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam: Light effort and catch during the current catch and release only fishery.

From the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only beginning Oct. 1. Daily limit one fish. Minimum fork length 38 inches and maximum fork length 54 inches.

Walleye

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam: Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area averaged just over 2/3 walleye kept per rod.

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