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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 17, 2011 at 8:15 AM

Columbia River spring chinook return is larger than expected, and lower river reopened Sunday

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The Lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam reopened Sunday with lots of jack spring chinook caught and pretty good effort.

More good news is the Technical Advisory Committee met Monday (May 16), and the said inseason run update has gone from 217,000 spring chinook to 237,000. The preseason forecast was 198,400.

State Fish and Wildlife sampled 305 salmon anglers (including 56 boats) with 27 adult spring chinook and 65 jack spring chinook, and four steelhead. Of those 19 (70-percent) of the adult spring chinook, and 57 (88-percent) of the jack spring chinook were kept as were all of the steelhead.

They sampled 13 (68-percent) of the adult spring chinook, and 32 (56-percent) of the jack spring chinook and all of the steelhead kept. Of those 10 (77-percent) of the adult spring chinook and 30 (94-percent) of the jack spring chinook sampled were of upriver origin based on Visual Stock Identification.

Despite the crummy weather, just over 400 boats and 466 bank anglers were counted during Sunday’s aerial flight.

The bad news is the flows at Bonneville Dam are expected to reach a whopping 525,000 cubic feet per second late this evening (May 17).

Above Bonneville Dam catches of spring chinook had cooled down since last week’s good fishing.

In the Wind River fishing at the mouth has slowed a bit since earlier last week. Quite a few jack spring chinook in the catch.

In Drano Lake, the news is the same here, slowed a bit since earlier last week and quite a few jack spring chinook around.

The Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery opened the ladder for just under a day last week, and more than 1,550 adult spring chinook and 110 jack spring chinook entered the trap. The escapement goal is 1,000 fish.

In the Klickitat River spring chinook catches improved last week, and some steelhead were also found in the catch.

Joe Zendt, a fisheries biologist for the Yakama Nation Fisheries Program reports Lyle Falls adult trapping is still intermittent due to fish way improvement construction and high flows this week, but there have been a handful of spring chinook adults (50 or less) pass through the fish way. No reports of any returns to the hatchery yet.

In the Yakima River, Paul Hoffarth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Pasco says his staff interviewed anglers fishing the Yakima River three days during the past week. Only two anglers were fishing for salmon and they had no catch.

After nearly reaching historical daily high flows of 6,000 cfs for May 15, the river is expected to drop the next several days.

In the Ringold area fishing remains slow and flows are high. An estimated nine adult hatchery and two hatchery jacks have been harvested from May 1 to 15. In addition six adult wild spring chinook and two wild chinook jacks have been caught and released.

(Photo by Seattle Times staff)

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