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Spring Chinook have (Finally) Arrived

by Associated Press
The Olympian, May 13, 2006

Salmon season to reopen on Columbia

PORTLAND -- The spring chinook salmon run in the Columbia River is back in force, and the sports fishery will reopen from the upper Bonneville pool to McNary Dam beginning today.

The decision by fishery managers in Washington and Oregon was welcome but bittersweet to Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sport Fishing Industry Association. She said the industry was clobbered by the closure, with losses in the millions.

"It's devastating," she said. "This is one of the biggest fisheries in the Northwest. It tees up fishing for the rest of the year.

"When it goes well, people get their boats ready, their gear, their licenses. Once they make the investment, they continue to fish the rest of the year."

She said river guides were especially hard hit, and many out-of-area clients canceled.

"They aren't as inclined to book for next year," she said. "You have to rebuild the confidence of clients. It's like losing market share."

The fishery above Bonneville Dam is smaller than the one below, which is still closed, she said, adding that the increased run "is not so much good news for the industry but for the fish."

"It looks like we might get the forecast (of returning spring chinook) but it's still low," she said.

As of Thursday, 59,660 "springers" had passed Bonneville Dam, up from 51,836 at the same time last year but nowhere near the 10-year average of 128,288 for that date, which in normal years would be late in the run.

Associated Press
Spring Chinook have (Finally) Arrived
The Olympian, May 13, 2006

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