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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 14, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Spring chinook anglers will get five more days to fish the Lower Columbia River

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Washington and Oregon Fish and Wildlife managers have decided to extend the Lower Columbia River spring chinook sport fishery to remain open through Tuesday, April 19, and then the season will come to an end.

Washington and Oregon fisheries managers will meet on Wednesday, April 20 to discuss spring chinook fisheries above Bonneville Dam.

Here is the update from the compact meeting:

Water Conditions

During April 1-12, discharge at Bonneville Dam averaged 338 kcfs, including about 111 kcfs in spill. The discharge peaked at 390 kcfs on April 5 and dropped to 303 kcfs by April 13. The 5-year average discharge for April 14 is 217 kcfs. River stage is currently at 10.0 feet with a predicted rise to 11.4 feet by April 18.

Bonneville Dam discharge is predicted to average 266 kcfs from April 16-22 and 274 kcfs from April 23-30. Water visibility is 2.0 feet compared to 4.0 feet on April 1. The 5-year average visibility for this date is 4.7 feet.

Water temperature was 47° F on April 12. Spring water temperatures have been colder than both the 5- and 10-year averages.

Stock Status

Bonneville Dam passage of chinook through April 13 totals 864 adults. Based on the recent 5-year average, which includes four late-timed years, passage is typically about 2% (range 0.1% to 4%) complete on April 13. The 10-year average completion percentage is 8% (range 0.1% to 32%).

The 5-year average 50% passage date is May 8; therefore it is difficult to make accurate conclusions regarding run size at this time.

Indicators for the upriver run strength are mixed; negative indicators include the low cumulative Bonneville Dam count and low catch rates in the lower river sport fishery to date. Positive indicators include a high proportion of upriver fish in non-Indian catch since early February and the improved catch rate from test fishing and ongoing research activities.

Lower Columbia River Recreational Fishery

The Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam closed as scheduled for chinook retention effective Tuesday April 5. Through April 4, the kept and release mortality for upriver fish was estimated at 3,820 fish, or 49% of the 7,750 available.

Given the large remaining balance of upriver fish, the states re-opened the fishery for eight additional days from Friday April 8 through Friday April 15 under the same structure and regulations as the initial fishery.

Projected total catch for April 8-15 is 1,732 chinook, with an estimated 1,362 kept, and a total upriver catch (kept and release mortalities) of 767 fish. This brings the total upriver catch in the lower river fishery to 4,587 fish, or 59% of the 7,750 available.

The estimated total upriver catch (kept and release mortalities) in all non-Indian fisheries through Friday April 15 is 6,323 (55% of the 11,257 available at the buffered pre-season run size).

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