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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

January 27, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Two chinook counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, but unsure if they are spring or late fall fish

The first spring chinook hasn’t been hooked by any angler on the Lower Columbia River below I-5 just yet, but two might have shown up elsewhere on the mighty river.

Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver says an adult and a jack chinook were counted at Bonneville Dam on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

“We aren’t sure if it was a late fall chinook or a springer,” Hymer said, “The (lower river) commercial sturgeon fishery starts on Monday, and we’ll see what they catch too.”

Here is what the actual fish counter at Bonneville said: “Unclipped chinook adult and an unclipped chinook jack that went through one right behind the other (on Wednesday) and they both had the white chins, and I don’t think they’re springers. I was doing video when they went through so I got to see them live as well as the video. They’re both bright as can be, but just don’t have the look of a springer.”

Even if those aren’t truly spring chinook it is only a matter of time before we hear about the first one caught.

Springer crowd.jpg

The upriver Columbia River spring chinook forecast is 314,200 compared to a forecast last year of 198,400 and an actual return of 221,200. It would be the fourth largest dating back to 1980, with the largest return of 440,300 happening in 2001.

The second largest occurred in 2002 when 335,000 upriver springers returned, and the third largest was 315,000 in 2010.

Harvest guidelines adopted will allow anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam to catch and keep up to 14,500 hatchery-reared spring chinook before the run forecast is updated in May.

Spring chinook fishing is currently open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to the I-5 bridge.

Under the new rules, the sport fishery will expand upriver to Beacon Rock from March 1 through April 6. During that period, the sport fishery will close on three Tuesdays – March 20, March 27 and April 3 – to accommodate commercial fisheries.

Starting March 1, bank anglers will also be allowed to fish from Beacon Rock up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Above Bonneville Dam, the fishery will be open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from March 16 through May 2 between the Tower Island powerlines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the powerlines during that time.

Starting March 1, anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville Dam may retain one marked, hatchery-reared adult spring chinook as part of their daily catch limit. Above the dam, anglers can keep two marked adult spring chinook per day effective March 16.

As in years past, only hatchery-reared spring chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin may be retained. Any unmarked wild spring chinook must be released unharmed.

(Photo courtesy of state Fish and Wildlife)

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