The steelhead catch may have dropped off but it looks like July could go down as a new record catch in the Lower Columbia River.
“We may have a new record for steelhead handled in July, and I’m just adding up the final numbers as we speak,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Oregon will put together theirs and we’ll see what we’ve got in the next day of so or by the end of the week.”
Hymer says the current record total steelhead “handled” – the total number of fish kept and/or released — is 18,516 and occurred in August of 2011. The previous high total was 15,934 kept/released in July 2009.
“We’ve got on the Washington side at least close to 3,000 fish kept or released in our sample,” Hymer said. “When that gets expanded up it is possible we’ll have a new record.”
“We had quite a bit of effort (last month) and good fishing conditions with higher and cooler water,” Hymer said. “The steelhead catch dropped in lower river, but we are starting to see a switch to more hatchery fish now.”
While the steelhead catch has dropped off from last month, it has gotten better closer to the dam and there was a good catch of steelhead both inside and outside of Drano Lake and off the White Salmon River.”
Through July 31, 86,831 hatchery and 37,803 wild steelhead have passed above Bonneville Dam. Single day counts from July 25-31 have ranged from a low of 3,790 to a high of 6,329.
Also today (Wednesday, Aug. 1) marks a time in the Columbia River from Buoy-10 up to the Highway 395 Bridge Pasco when fall chinook are fair game to anglers.
“We’ve checked a couple of fall chinook of the season today so they are underway,” Hymer said. “The two adult fish were caught this morning in the lower river at Kalama and one up toward the dam.”