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Ecology and salmon related articles

Chinook Retention Will Close

by Allen Thomas
The Columbian, September 18, 2007

Faced with a salmon run 43 percent smaller than expectations, Washington and Oregon are closing chinook retention beginning Wednesday in the lower Columbia and Thursday in the Columbia River Gorge.

A run of 185,200 upper Columbia "bright" fall chinook was forecast initially to enter the river headed for waters upstream of McNary Dam near Umatilla, Ore.

But with the counts at Bonneville Dam falling quickly, a committee of state, federal and tribal biologists on Monday downgraded the forecast to 105,000 chinook.

Sportsmen will have landed a total of slightly more than 12,000 chinook when fishing ends this week.

Almost 8,000 chinook were taken between Tongue Point, east of Astoria, and Bonneville Dam. At Buoy 10 (between the ocean and Tongue Point), the catch was 4,000 chinook. Upstream of Bonneville Dam, where angling is just ramping up, the catch through Wednesday will be about 130 chinook.

Upper Columbia bright fall chinook and wild fall chinook headed for lower Columbia tributaries both are subject to sharing agreements between sport and commercial fishermen.

Sportsmen will have exceeded their share of upper Columbia chinook by 2 percent, but are 63 percent over their allocation of lower Columbia chinook, said Chris Kern of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chinook retention closed Sept. 5 downstream of the Lewis River mouth.

Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association said Monday's closure is necessary to avoid exceeding the upper Columbia sharing agreements, but hurts economically.

"I have guides calling with clients flying in from the other side of the U.S.," Hamilton said. "It's hard to get them to book again when they've had to cancel flights."

Cindy LeFleur of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the chinook retention ban particularly hurts in the Columbia Gorge.

"I didn't even want to think about closing that fishery because they are just getting started," she said. "But I don't see any option."

If there is a late bump in the dam counts, the area upstream of Bonneville would be the first to reopen, she added.

Fishing remains open for hatchery steelhead, hatchery coho and sturgeon in the Columbia, plus most of the tributaries are open.

Commercial seasons - State officials will meet at 10 a.m. today at Rainier, Ore., city hall to discuss gillnet seasons in late September and October in the lower Columbia.

Related Pages:
Buoy 10 Remains Rewarding Fall Chinook Heats Up by Michael Teague, News-Register, 9/13/7

Allen Thomas
Chinook Retention Will Close
The Columbian, September 18, 2007

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