Springer Catch Up To 18.4K

The latest figures from the lower Columbia River show that sport anglers have kept 18,438 spring Chinook so far this season — 11,553 in April alone and nearly 8,900 in the seven days between April 5 and 11.

Another 2,621 Chinook have been released this year, according to figures from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife out this morning.

With upriver-bound springers making up 79 percent of the catch and probably a similar percentage of the release, the sport impact is creeping ever closer to the 17,200 available before managers perform a run update.

That’s a ways off, but we may have some answers about where things go from here soon.

“We’re going to put out a fact sheet tomorrow and be able to tell you what happens then,” says Cindy Le Fleur, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Columbia River manager. The run is jointly managed with ODFW.

As for the hot bite, the waters from the northern tip of Sauvie Island up to roughly the I-205 bridge have been best this month, with 4,886 bonked in that stretch above the Willamette and 3,879 popped into the fish box below the Oregon river’s mouth.

About half of that water remains open through this Sunday, April 18.  The Columbia above I-5 to Bonneville Dam shut down April 4. The waters above the dam are open through May 31.

ANDYCOHO, ERR, ANDYSPRINGER, ERR ANDY SCHNEIDER WITH A CATERPILLAR ISLAND CHINOOK FROM THIS PAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Dam counts have picked up substantially with just under 10,000 through Bonneville as of yesterday thanks to four quadruple-digit days in a row at the ladder, including 3,545 on Saturday.

Fishing’s come a long ways since reporters — mea culpa, yours truly — wondered where the hell the fish were and publicly gnashed our teeth over the managers and their damned “record run” forecast of 470,000 back to tribs above Bonneville. But then things began to pick up with 700 kept through mid-March, 2,462 by the next week, nearly 7,000 by the end of the month and 9,600 kings through April 4.

Overall, anglers have made 124,664 trips for springers, a significant economic boost to Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.

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