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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

September 2, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Third highest count of pink salmon in the Columbia River system since at least 1938

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It looks like the pink salmon mania is creeping south into the Columbia River.

Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist notified me that to date, 392 pinks have been counted at Bonneville Dam.

“It’s the third highest count since at least 1938,” Hymer said. “We do get some every year that cross Bonneville.”

In 2003, a total of 637 pinks were counted at Bonneville Dam; in 1991, there were 550 fish. Yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 1), 57 pinks were counted at the dam.

“The most we see or hear about them is at the mouth of the Toutle and Cowlitz River,” Hymer said. “The Cowlitz has a known population of pinks and the largest.”

Pinks caught in the Columbia mainstem and the Cowlitz system need to be released when caught by anglers.

“Nobody knows much about them (in this region), and they could be expanding their southern range or colonizing,” Hymer said. “Some years they’ll get a pretty good number of pinks.”

Hymer says it could be similar to what happened around Puget Sound like when the Green River went from having none to now what is forecast to be two-plus million pinks.

“It may be the same deal so if it is a larger run we might get a few more down here,” Hymer said. “We usually see them in scattered numbers in the tributaries.”

“Will we set a new record?” Hymer questioned. “Stay tuned.”

(Photo by Pedro Perez, The Seattle Times)

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