Follow us:

Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

January 26, 2011 at 4:27 PM

First spring chinook caught in Lower Columbia River

“They’re here!” Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver said via e-mail referring to the first spring chinook caught in the Lower Columbia this year.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sampled an 18-pound lower river stock spring chinook from the Lower Columbia commercial white sturgeon fishery today (Jan. 26).

The springer was caught in Zone 2 (between Pacific/Wahkiakum County line and Wahkiakum/Cowlitz county line). It’s a commercial white sturgeon fishery, but adipose fin clipped salmon may be sold.

The salmon sold for $16 a pound.

Salmon anglers are eagerly awaiting what is expected to be a fairly decent spring chinook salmon return to the Big C.

The Upper Columbia spring chinook return forecast of 198,400 fish is the sixth largest since 1979. It is well under last year’s forecast of 470,000 (315,345 was actual return). The largest return was 437,900 in 2001, and the 10-year average is 219,000.

The good news for the 2011 return is quite a few larger-sized 5-year-old fish, about 40,000 of them, are expected. The bulk of the annual returns are comprised of 4-year-old fish.

Another popular spring chinook fishery on the Oregon side of the Columbia is the Willamette River, where a forecast of about 104,000 (62,400 are expected to be brawny five-year-olds) is expected, compared to a forecast last year of 63,000 (110,000 was the actual return).

Columbia River spring chinook are prized for their tasty, Omega-3-laced, red-orange-colored meat, which is similar to fish from Alaska’s Copper River.

The height of the spring chinook return is March and April. Sport angler trips in the Lower Columbia have averaged 129,000 since 2002.

Those who just can’t wait will be happy to know that fishing for spring chinook is currently open on the Columbia River below the I-5 Bridge, where the daily limit is two adult fish. Anglers may also retain two adult springers dailyy in the Cowlitz and Deep rivers, but are limited to one adult fish a day on the Lewis and Kalama rivers.

Hymer says the Cowlitz River and waters near the Willamette River are probably the best bets early in the season, because spring chinook usually start showing up there first.

Spring chinook fishing seasons will be announced by representatives of Washington and Oregon fisheries at a Feb. 8 meeting of the Columbia River Compact in Oregon City.

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►