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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 2, 2011 at 4:31 PM

States could keep the Lower Columbia River spring chinook fishery open longer

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Washington and Oregon fisheries managers may extend the Lower Columbia River spring chinook fishery after catches so far this season have been at times slow (make that downright the total pits) and angler turnout lower than expected.

Both states will meet 3 p.m. on Wednesday (April 6) to look at a spring chinook sport fishing reopener.

Spring chinook catches appear to still be tracking below the preseason expectations in the Lower Columbia River sport fishery.

Projected through March 31, there have been an estimated 65,000 angler trips with 3,770 adult spring chinook kept and 1,092 released.

Of those 2,964 (79-percent) of the spring chinook kept were of upriver origin based upon Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

Approximately 40-percent of the 7,750 upriver catch guideline has been taken. There were also 553 steelhead kept and 411 released.

The lower river below Bonneville will close after April 4. The area from Tower Island power lines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line located 17 miles upstream from McNary Dam is open through April 24.

Both states will also meet at 1 p.m. on Monday to consider an extension on the Lower Columbia commercial fishery.

“That (Tuesday, March 29) was the shortest commercial fishery on record (a total of four hours) and the full fleet was out from mouth to Kelly Point at the mouth of the Willamette,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Approximately two-thirds of the fish sold were upriver stock based upon Visual Stock Identification (VSI). That equates to 1,263 salmon and four sturgeon for about 150 deliveries.

Based on the high participation anticipated, and the observed chinook per drift and mark rate found during test fishing, the expected catch was 2,700 chinook (2,400-3,000 range).

“They (commercial fishermen) still have a lot of fish left on the table,” Hymer said. “They have a few thousand upriver fish left to catch so they got about half yet to go.”

There will be another commercial test fishery this weekend.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Harrison)

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