March 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM
Lower Columbia River spring chinook slowly moving upstream and catches are building
There is a silver lining to all this gray and rainy Pacific Northwest weather.
And that is the spring chinook salmon that are migrating upstream in the Lower Columbia River right now.
“The last few days has been kind of quiet, but when the (Lower Columbia) river opened above the I-5 Bridge (March 1) there was little bit of catch happening here and there on Friday and Saturday,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
During the first three days of March, state Fish and Wildlife sampled 760 salmon anglers (including 270 boats) with 17 spring chinook and eight steelhead.
Of those 13 (76.5-percent) of the spring chinook and three (37.5-percent) of the steelhead caught were kept. All but one of the spring chinook were caught by boat anglers from Kalama to Vancouver. Bank anglers caught more steelhead than spring chinook. The steelhead were caught from Vancouver downstream.
Of those 10 (76.9-percent) of the spring chinook sampled were from upriver origin based on Visual Stock Identification.
Effort increased with the nicer weather, larger fishing area, and reports of a few more fish being caught accounted for 280 boats and 355 bank anglers found during the Saturday, March 2 aerial count.
“There is a lot of smelt (in Cathlamet area), and the salmon seem to be kegged up there feeding on the smelt with a lot of pinnipeds around too,” Hymer said. “The fishing conditions are really good with low and clear water.”
With spring chinook it seems like just when its starting to get better it then slows down,” Hymer said. “I wouldn’t expect any fast action yet.”
Through March 5, 16 spring chinook have been counted at Bonneville Dam (seven were counted on March 3), and at this same time last year only three total were counted.
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