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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 13, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Lower Columbia River to reopen for hatchery spring chinook starting this Sunday

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Fisheries managers agreed today (May 13) to reopen the Lower Columbia River for hatchery-marked spring chinook boat angling starting Sunday, May 15 through June 15 as high up as Beacon Rock, and the same goes for bank anglers from Beacon Rock Rock up to Bonneville Dam.

State and tribal biologists earlier this week boosted the forecast of upriver Columbia spring chinook from 198,400 to 210,000.

The fish counts at Bonneville Dam were 9,255 adult spring chinook on May 9; 9,754 on May 10; 4,625 on May 11; and 6,623 on May 12. That brings the yearly total to 136,793.

That leaves 3,800 hatchery-marked spring chinook left to catch for sport anglers below Bonneville Dam, which has been closed since mid-April.

Sport anglers above Bonneville and the Washington-Oregon border exceeded their allocation by 900 spring chinook, while the Snake River anglers took an extra 300, and that was taken out of the Lower Columbia sport catch.

However, that upgraded figure of 210,000 could likely increase in the days ahead with some saying it might hit 225,000, which will then allow lower river anglers to catch even more fish.

One problem with the Sunday opening is that it will likely coincide with river flows that are expected to reach a high 450,000 cubic feet per second by sometime next week.

Many wanted to open the lower river sport fishery on Saturday instead to allow more fishing time before the river flows pick up.

The upper deadline line for boat anglers is from the sign on the Oregon-side dock to the downstream end of Pierce Island, and then to a sign on the Washington shore at Beacon Rock.

Summer chinook fishing starts June 16.

The Technical Advisory Committee will meet Monday to readdress the spring chinook run forecast, and it could be increased again.

Anglers can retain one hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.

In areas open to spring chinook fishing, anglers may also retain sockeye salmon and hatchery steelhead under regulations outlined in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.

Shad may not be retained on Sunday, but opens Monday, May 16 under the normal scheduled fishing seasons.

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