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Ecology and salmon related articles

Wild Chinook Retention
Gets the Green Light

by Staff
News Register, June 30, 2005

With a decent run of summer chinook following the disappointing springer showing, the decision to allow sports anglers to keep chinook, fin-clipped or not, from the Columbia is official.

In a meeting of Oregon and Washington Fish & Wildlife officials Tuesday, it was decided to "allow the retention of marked and un-marked Chinook and hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) steelhead from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to the Hwy 395 Bridge near Pasco, Wash." starting on Friday. As of that date, two fin-clipped steelhead or two clipped or wild chinook or a combination may be kept.

Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam are about 225,000 for the year. Shad numbers are dropping off with fewer than 1,000 crossing per day although well over 5 million have been counted.

Hardware continues to take a few and the occasional limit of springers from the Columbia with Alvins producing as well as anything over the last week in 20 to 25 feet of water.

The traditional Buoy 10 coho fishery ocean opener is July 3, with the Columbia River opening Aug. 1.

In the meeting mentioned above, it was also decided to extend the estuary sturgeon season from its original July 5 closure to July 10. This area, which includes the waters from Wauna Powerlines to the mouth of the Columbia at Buoy 10, will then be closed from July 11 through 14, and re-open on Friday, July 15 and close for the season Sunday, July 17.

Sturgeon fishing in the estuary has been rewarding for most anglers even though the catches this year aren't on par with last. Shallow water has rewarded many with sand shrimp or anchovies tempting fish from water eight to twelve feet in depth with some regularity.

Sturgeon will school to size so it's important to move in order to find biters, then move again to find keepers. These fish seem to be running larger this year with more fish in the 55-60 inch range and far more oversized specimens than in years past.

The Fishery and Horsetail Falls has been producing only shaker sturgeon. There's plenty of action but no legal-sized fish to be found. Downriver is the place to be at this time of year.

In other action. the ODFW announced that sturgeon fishing from Wauna Powerlines upstream to Beacon Rock will be extended to July 31, 2005. The retention fishery for sturgeon has closed above The Dalles Dam to the John Day Dam.

Daily spring chinook counts at Willamette Falls have remained fairly steady since the first of June, averaging around 240 a day. While the peak of the run passed six weeks ago, springers remain available to late-season, diehard hardware-soakers. Year-to-date as of the latest data on June 25, 33,108 spring chinook have been counted.

Summer steelhead also are making their way from the lower Willamette upstream at the rate of a couple of hundred a day with counts pushing the 10,000 mark for 2005. The flow at the Falls is moderating as water temperatures climb into the sixties. Visibility is five feet.

The Willamette at Oregon City and the lower Clackamas River continue to put out shad by the score. It's not going to last forever. As a matter of historical fact, it's not going to last through July, so if you want the best crab and oversized sturgeon bait available, get yours now.

Steelheading has been good on the Sandy River with best results coming to early-risers who are on the water at first light. Go figure. Sounds just like summer steelheading. A few decent spring chinook are in the mix, so be prepared for either or both.

The North Santiam is producing a few summer steelhead on bobber n' jig, but it is slow overall. Hopefully, this fishery will turn on soon. This has been a stellar destination for steelies in years past but has produced only lackluster results the last couple of seasons.

Expect streams to be fairly low and clear on the North coast for the holiday weekend. Without decent tidal exchanges, late-season spring chinook will be hunkered down in deeper holes on the Wilson and Trask Rivers. Drift sand shrimp or use bobber and eggs and use a stealthy approach. Early mornings offer the best odds of success.

It'll be scratch fishing for scattered steelhead on the Wilson and Nestucca. The mild tides may improve crabbing prospects on Tillamook Bay.

Bottom fishing out of Depoe Bay and Newport has been terrific this year. Ling cod are showing up consistently along with rockfish and the occasional cabezon. The coho angling is improving. Trolling for chinook has been spotty but persistence has paid off with large fish for many.

Yaquina Bay has been fair for crabbing but the number of legals has fallen off. Expect to see numerous red rock crab in nets, but some folks like those things.

While the spring all-depth halibut quota was thought originally to have filled, it turns out the 40,000 pounds or nearly 40 percent remain available to sport anglers. Take your shot at them this weekend, June 30 through July 2. Officials believe this may wrap it up, but if fish remain available after the holiday foray, July 14 through 16 would be the next opportunities.

Hardy offshore anglers with the right equipment and know-how are hitting tuna 45 to 50 miles offshore out of Depoe Bay.

Summer steelhead fishing is improving on the North Umpqua. Smallmouth bass is a rewarding pursuit while shad fishing is still worthwhile and quite sporting on fly-fishing gear.

Offshore salmon fishing has been good for the few who have tried out of Winchester Bay. Conditions were good over the weekend but interest seems low. Both chinook and coho are cooperating with trollers.

The spring chinook fishery on the Rogue River is considered to be winding down now although anglers have been catching fish from the top of tidewater to Agness with the best catches occurring at first light. Upper river summer steelheading remains spotty with counts at Gold Ray Dam low.

Fall chinook will be making an appearance at Rogue Bay in a few weeks. When the water temperature in the river climbs into the low 70s, chinook will stay in the bay, creating a hot opportunity for trollers dragging the Rogue River Rig, a harness for baitfish with a spinner at the nose. Anchovy is a local favorite and August is prime-time although a few nice chinook are invariably landed in July.

Timothy Lake is producing rainbows a foot long or better to trollers with limits a good possibility to those who start early and stay at it. Crawfish are abundant here. Catches will remain good through July.

No trout stocking took place this week in the Northwest Zone and only a few Willamette Zone water were planted. Among them, Trillium Lake, Estacada Lake, Faraday Lake, North Fork Reservoir, Blue River, Breitenbush River and Carmen Reservoir received rainbows.

Have a safe, fun and fishy Fourth of July holiday. Share stories and photos by e-mail to
Wild Chinook Retention Gets the Green Light
News Register, June 30, 2005

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