Officials may Offer One-Chinook Bag Limitby Allen Thomas, Columbian staff writer
The Columbian, March 16, 2006
A one-chinook daily bag limit in the lower Columbia River may be in the offing for August and September in order to stretch the fishing season into October.
Washington and Oregon officials agreed Monday to plug a one-chinook bag into their Columbia River fishery model to see how long it will extend the sport season.
In 2005, fishing between the Tongue Point-Rocky Point line east of Astoria, Ore., and Bonneville Dam closed for the retention of fall chinook on Sept. 17 when it became apparent anglers were exceeding their allocation.
"It's all about opportunity,'' said Bob Rees, a Tillamook, Ore., fishing guide. "The Sept. 17 closure in the main stem (Columbia) hurt...A lot of sport anglers could tolerate a one-fish bag.''
The limit has been two chinook a day.
Fall chinook retention in the Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the Columbia has been limited to one-fish daily for several years to keep that fishery open through Labor Day.
Fall chinook retention is determined by how the harvest of the "upriver bright'' stock of chinook is split between sportmen and the commercial fleet.
In 2005, the split was to be 50-50, but ended up favoring sportsmen by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin despite the Sept. 17 closure.
Managing fall chinook harvests is an imprecise juggling act, influenced by weather, water temperatures, timing of the run, angler effort and how the fish bite in a given year.
Over the past six years, sportsmen have been 4 percent over their allocation and the netters 4 percent under.
Among sport fishermen, fall chinook are further divided between Buoy 10, the lower Columbia between Tongue Point-Rocky Point and Bonneville Dam and upstream of Bonneville Dam.
Washington and Oregon officials met Monday with representatives of sport and commercial fishing groups in Vancouver to shape the 2006 season in the Columbia River.
Sportsmen said a one-chinook-a-day fishery at Buoy 10 is acceptable to keep the season open through Labor Day and a one-chinook daily limit can be expanded
Previously: Columbia River anglers were allowed two chinook a day in August and September, but the season often closed early to avoid exceeding catch ceilings.
What's new: State officials will take a serious look at a one-chinook limit to extend the season into October.
What's next: Details of the summer and fall seasons will be finalized April 3-7.
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