Sockeye Opens Tomorrow On Columbia

This news comes two days late for Julian Zirkle, but with record numbers of sockeye over Bonneville Dam this week, ODFW and WDFW today added the species to the two-adult-salmonid daily limit on the Columbia River between the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Priest Rapids Dam.

Notices from both agencies say season will open tomorrow, June 26, and run through July 31.

“I caught four of them,” says Zirkle, a tackle counter staffer at Fisherman’s Marine (503-283-0044) in Delta Park. “I was using small pink Spin-N-Glos, and did good with a bit of yarn on an egg loop.”

He dabbed a bit of shrimp gel on his yarn and kept his plunking outfit pretty tight to the beach.

“I was casting within 40 feet of the bank” based on his reel’s linecounter, Zirkle says.

He says his lead line was only an inch or two long.

Other anglers incidentally catching the salmon that day at Dibblee Beach near Rainier, Ore., were using shrimp tails. Joe Hymer, a fisheries biologist in Vancouver, adds dyed prawns and even Power Bait to the list of baits that yield sockeye.

A friend of Northwest Sportsman contributor Andy Schneider adds that sox have even taken whacks at Wobblers put out for Chinook in past years, but that sizing down to a smaller treble or siwash hook might be better. The friend, a plunker, indicates that the sockeye were also suspended 5 to 10 feet off bottom.

Zirkle reports the fish were from 3 1/2 pounds to 5 pounds.

While targeting hatchery summer Chinook and steelhead June 16-20, anglers caught and released an estimated 760 sockeye in the Lower Columbia, according to a fact sheet released yesterday. And though at least 195,122 have gone over Bonneville Dam through June 24, many more are still reported splashing around in near-shore areas all the way down to the big river’s estuary.

“Sockeye salmon returns to the Columbia River are now projected to be two times greater than predicted and the escapement needs for the Okanogan and Wenatchee rivers are likely to be achieved,” says a WDFW emergency rule change notice sent out by email. “These upper Columbia populations (Wenatchee and Okanogan) are not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Impacts to the ESA-listed Snake River component are projected to be less than 1% of the run.”

The run back to Washington’s Wenatchee and Okanogan Rivers and Idaho’s Snake/Salmon River was originally estimated at 125,000 but updated earlier this week to 250,000, which raises the chances of opening Lake Wenatchee for sockeye retention sometime later this season.

The last five days alone have seen 138,076 clear Bonneville, including now the first (30,690; June 24), second (30,374; June 23), fourth (26,873; June 21), fifth (25,128) and sixth (25,011; June 20) largest daily counts on record back to 1938. One or two more days with counts anywhere near those tallies will put 2010’s run into the record books, topping 1955’s 237,448.

Sport anglers are expected to catch around 1,200, tribal fishermen more than 10 times that through July 8 in gillnet and hook-and-line fisheries.

While the salmon and steelhead daily limit remains six fish, only two of which may be adults, sockeye will count as part of the adult daily limit.  All other salmon other than hatchery chinook and sockeye must be released. Release all trout, including steelhead, from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco upstream.

Meanwhile, back downriver, Zirkle has this advice for PDX/’Couv anglers interested in getting in on this emerging fishery:

“I’d say stay in close, use bright colors and smaller Spin-N-Glos,” he says.

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One Response to “Sockeye Opens Tomorrow On Columbia”

  1. Record Sockeye Run Now Forecasted « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] and Oregon upped the preseason forecast to 250,000 and began announcing fishery opening on the Lower, Mid and Upper […]

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