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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 28, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Spring chinook catches on the rise in Lower Columbia River

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March is knocking on our doorstep, it is less than two weeks before daylight savings kicks in, and spring chinook fishing has revved into high gear on the Lower Columbia River.

“There was some decent catches of spring chinook from the Vancouver to Woodland stretch,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver. “We saw 100 boats out on Saturday (Feb. 26), and we checked some fish. Fishing was better (Sunday, Feb. 27) than the day before, and many (88 percent) of the fish caught were still upriver fish. Most of the catch was on the Washington side (of the Columbia mainstem).”

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 Bridge downstream – Effort and catches are building. Last week WDFW sampled 241 anglers with 25 chinook and 2 steelhead. Boat anglers averaged one chinook kept/released per every 5.7 rods based on completed trips. All the catch was sampled from Woodland to Vancouver. WDFW did not check any chinook from the nearly 100 bank anglers sampled.

As the rain fell heavily the past couple of days, Hymer says that could change the game in the next couple of days around the Willamette River and below the Cowlitz River.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife report that came out today (Feb. 28) says spring chinook angling got off to a strong start on the Lower Columbia during February, and many of the chinook sampled were larger, five-year-old chinook exceeding 20 pounds. The area between the I-5 Bridge and Rooster Rock opens to boat angling March 1.

Here is a more detailed look at changes on the Lower Columbia River:

Mainstem from Buoy 10 to I-5 Bridge: Effective March 1 through Monday April 4 (or the catch guideline of 7,750 upriver spring chinook), this area of the river is open for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and shad. The daily bag limit is two adipose fin-clipped salmon or steelhead adults (chinook greater than 24 inches and steelhead greater than 20 inches), of which no more than one may be a chinook, and five adipose fin-clipped chinook jacks. The retention of chum and sockeye is prohibited.

Mainstem from I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam: Effective March 1 through April 4 (or until the catch guideline of 7,750 upriver spring chinook has been reached) the mainstem Columbia River from the I-5 Bridge upstream to Rooster Rock plus the Oregon and Washington banks from Rooster Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam is open to the retention of adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and shad. The daily bag limit is two adipose fin-clipped salmon or steelhead adults (chinook greater than 24 inches and steelhead greater than 20 inches), of which no more than one may be a chinook, and five adipose fin-clipped chinook jacks. The retention of chum and sockeye salmon is prohibited.

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept 62 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekly checking showed 11 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook kept and four unclipped spring chinook released for 24 boats (60 anglers).

Estuary Bank: (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

(Photo taken by Seattle Times staff)

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