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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 20, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Spring chinook fishery could pick up in the days ahead on the Lower Columbia

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The Lower Columbia spring chinook fishery has shown some improvement, but catches are by far anywhere from good at this point.

“It was slow over the weekend, but a little better (Monday) with some nice fish caught,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “I know a friend who caught a 30 pounder (on Monday) and a 32 on Saturday, and we caught two springers (18 and 23 pounders) on Saturday.”

“We saw some pretty good checks yesterday so there ought to be some fish around,” Hymer said.

Hymer says due to water conditions and a lot of dirty water spilling out of the Willamette River, the best fishing has been from the Lewis River mouth upstream. The flow in the Lower Columbia is running about 200,000 cubic feet per second, and conditions are pretty decent in the Vancouver area.

The commercial test fishery on Sunday caught 28 spring chinook, and didn’t conduct a fishery on Tuesday.

Remember, the mainstem Columbia below Bonneville Dam is closed to sport fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad on Tuesdays, March 20, March 27, and April 3.

Last week, state Fish and Wildlife sampled 1,263 salmon anglers (including 423 boats) with 42 spring chinook and five steelhead.

Boat anglers averaged a spring chinook kept or released per every 24.6 rods based on mainly completed trips. Bank anglers only kept one chinook and released two others based on primarily incomplete trips.

Of those 34 (81-percent) of the spring chinook caught were kept. State Fish and Wildlfie sampled 31 (91-percent) of the spring chinook kept. Of those 28 (90-percent) of the spring chinook sampled were of upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

Interestingly, other than effort last week’s results mirrored the same time last year, Hymer said.

Here is what Hymer said from March 14-20, 2011:

“Overall we sampled more anglers but catch rates were worse than the previous week,” Hymer said. “We sampled our first chinook of the season at Cathlamet and Kalama. Last week we sampled 2,656 anglers (including 946 boats) with 116 chinook and five steelhead. Boat anglers averaged a chinook kept/released per every 19.4 rods based on mainly completed trips. Almost all of the catch was sampled from the Lewis upstream. There was one lucky bank angler out of the 447 sampled that had kept a spring chinook.”

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