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Sturgeon Fishing Improves,
Chinook Season Closes on the Columbia

by Michael Teague
News-Register, April 19, 2007

Spring chinook numbers are up and sturgeon fishing has improved on the Columbia.

On Tuesday, April 17, over 1,200 chinook crossed at Bonneville Dam, pushing the YTD total to 4,322. Right on schedule following the closure of the big river on Sunday.

According to the ODFW, I-5 bridge downstream to Tongue Point will re-open for hatchery steelhead and hatchery chinook jacks beginning May 16. Any chinook, fin-clipped or not, may be retained from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue line beginning June 16. Adult chinook must be released in July. Shad angling re-opens May 16 from Bonneville Dam downstream.

The Portland to Longview stretch of the Columbia produced better than one keeper-sized sturgeon per boat during the last Thursday through Sunday retention period according to the ODFW.

A total of 514 spring chinook had crossed at Willamette Falls as of April 16. Winter steelhead counts were 4,592 and summer steelhead topped the 600 mark. Water temperature at the falls was down to 50 degrees on April 17. Lower Multnomah Channel produced springer limits for some trollers over the weekend, but reduced water temps this week stalled the bite. Sellwood has been most productive early in the day. Keeper sturgeon have been taken near Sauvies Island.

Clackamas steelheading is slow to fair with no additional spring chinook catches reported over the last week.

Water temperature in the Sandy River has yet to break out of the mid-50s. When it does, the spring chinook fishery will get underway. Some summer steelhead are in the system now.

Steelheading is fair for wild winter steelhead and a few hatchery summers from Green's Bridge to Stayton on the North Santiam. Rains and snowmelt have increased flows. Both winter and summer steelhead are entering the South Santiam as well.

Largemouth bass are in pre-spawn in the Willamette Valley now. That means this is the time of year they'll be most vulnerable and more inclined to strike a wide variety of lures. Bass are object-oriented; 'structured' as the pros call it. They will be near logs, brush or weedlines. How closely the bass will orient these objects depends on water clarity. Bass feel secure as long as they can see the structure. They're ambush feeders, so will position themselves to intercept passing prey. Present lures accordingly.

Morning minus tides have improved the sturgeon bite in Tillamook Bay. Sand or mud shrimp will tempt the bottom-huggers through the weekend as outgoing tides move to mid-morning. Tides such as these aren't good for crabbing, but it's been slow at T-Bay anyway.

While it's too early for decent springer fishing here, the minus tidal series occurring this week may lure a few early fish into the bay. Trolled spinners on the outgoing tide in the upper bay may draw a strike, but use caution in these shallow waters.

Although many of the steelhead in the Wilson are spawning now, anglers using stealth tactics are still catching a few. The best prospects have been from Mills Bridge downstream.

Nestucca anglers have been pleasantly surprised by the number of bright winter steelhead which remain available. About 80 percent of the fish hooked recently are wild, requiring release, however. Also in the mix are a few fresh summer steelhead which have been taken in the lower Nestucca and Three Rivers over the last week.

Crabbing is very slow in Yaquina Bay.

Minus tides mid-morning will be helpful for the ongoing cleanup at Yaquina Bay this week. Volunteers are encouraged to assist SOLV in this annual event which will continue through Earth Day on Sunday, April 22.

Halibut fishing opens May 1 off the Central Oregon Coast, although a few have been taken (and released) by bottom fishers recently. All-depth halibut starts on May 10.

The 2007 ocean salmon season dates have been finalized by the ODFW and were released as follows on April 13: "In the ocean from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, the salmon season is open seven days a week, March 15 to Oct. 31, for all salmon except coho. For the harvest of coho, the season is open June 23 to Sept. 16, until the 50,000-coho quota has been reached. Retained coho must have a healed adipose fin-clip. Anglers are reminded that beginning May 1, the minimum size for chinook salmon is 24-inches.

"In the ocean from Humbug Mountain, south to Horse Mountain, Calif., the salmon season is open seven days a week May 5 to Sept. 4, for all salmon except coho. For the harvest of coho, the season is open June 23ŠSept. 16, or until the 50,000-coho quota between Cape Falcon and the California-Oregon border has been reached. Retained coho must have a healed adipose fin-clip."

Most South Coast rivers have closed to fishing.

Umpqua steelheaders are experiencing slower action as the winter steelhead run winds down river-wide. The spring chinook run has yet to get rolling although a few were taken over the weekend and a 50-pounder was landed here on Saturday, April 7. The spring chinook bite on the lower Umpqua cooled since the last pod of fish moved through a week ago Wednesday. The good news is the smallmouth bass bite has picked up with anglers taking fish to five pounds.

Rain improved water temperatures in the lower Rogue last week, pushing it over 55 degrees for the first time this season. Spring chinook catches improved with the warmer water conditions and many anglers scored chrome. Rogue River rigs, a combination of an anchovy with a spinner blade on its nose, are taking chinook on the lower Rogue as anglers anxiously anticipate the springer run getting underway in earnest. Incoming tides are the best time to target these early fish. Steelheading in the middle and upper river has been fair.

Not since 1990 has such a generous and promising ocean salmon season been available to Southern Oregon anglers. Over 120 uninterrupted days will be offered in the Klamath Management Zone which stretches from Humbug Mountain to the California border. The chinook season opens May 5 and closes September 4. Offshore coho opens June 23, closing on the same day as chinook.

Scheduled to be stocked with hatchery trout this week in the Willamette Valley are Benson Lake, Bethany Pond, Blue Lake, Commonwealth Lake, Dorman Pond, Haldeman Pond, Harriet Lake, Hartman Pond, Henry Hagg Lake, Mt Hood Pond, Roslyn Lake, Trojan Ponds, Alton Baker Canal, Blue River Reservoir, Cottage Grove Reservoir, Detroit Reservoir, Dexter Reservoir, EE Wilson Pond, Foster Reservoir, Junction City Pond, Roaring River Park Pond, Timber Linn Lake and Waverly Lake.

In the Northwest Zone, Vernonia Pond, Nehalem Spring Lake, Alder Lake, Battle Lake, Big Creek Reservoir No.s 1 and 2, Buck Lake, Dune Lake, Elbow Lake, Georgia Lake and Lost Lake in Clatsop County are on the trout planting schedule this week.

Michael Teague
Sturgeon Fishing Improves, Chinook Season Closes on the Columbia
News-Register, April 19, 2007

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