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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 13, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Upper Columbia River region opens for sockeye fishing

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Now that the Columbia River sockeye return has surpassed preseason expectation, anglers will be able to pursue them in the upper stretches of the river.

State Fish and Wildlife announced this morning that sockeye fishing on the Columbia above Priest Rapids Dam as well as in the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers, and Lake Osoyoos will open either Thursday, July 14 or Saturday, July 16.

State Fish and Wildlife managers met Monday and updated the sockeye return the mouth at 181,500 compared to the preseason forecast of 161,900.

Counts the past five days at Bonneville Dam have averaged anywhere from a low on July 12 of 3,329 to a high of 5,262 on July 8. As of Tuesday, the dam count is 170,337, and has seen some good runs in recent summers.

Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be well in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The daily limit will be four sockeye with a minimum size limit of 12 inches. All coho and steelhead must be released.

Here is a breakdown on the sockeye fisheries opening:

Columbia River from Hwy 395 Bridge at Pasco to Wells Dam open July 14 through Oct 15. Anti-snagging and night closure in effect for Rocky Reach Dam to Turtle Rock.

Columbia River from Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster open July 16 through Aug 31.

Columbia River from Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Hwy 17 Bridge in Bridgeport open July 14 through Oct 15.

Okanogan River from the mouth to Hwy 97 Bridge immediately upstream of mouth open July 14 through Oct 15. Anti-snagging and night closure in effect.

Okanogan River from Hwy 97 Bridge immediately upstream of mouth to Hwy 97 Bridge crossing at Oroville open July 14 through Sept 15. Anti-snagging and night closure in effect.

Similkameen River from the mouth to 400 feet downstream of Enloe Dam open July 14 through Sept 15. Anti-snagging and night closure in effect.

Lake Osoyoos from Zosel Dam upstream to 300 yards south of the 49th parallel (US-Canadian border, which is marked with large fluorescent orange signs) open July 14 through Sept 15.

Important angler note: All sockeye and chinook with a floy (anchor) tag attached must be released. These fish are essential to ongoing studies being conducted by the Yakama Indian Tribe (sockeye) and by WDFW (chinook). Signs will be posted at individual boat launches informing anglers on the study and type of tag that can be expected.

Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement required for all sockeye fisheries.

(Photo taken by Greg Gilbert, Seattle Times staff photographer)

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