Managers Reopen Lower Columbia For Chinook

With ESA-listed salmon now out of the Lower Columbia, fishery managers today announced that the river below the Lewis River is reopening as of tomorrow, Oct. 15, for Chinook.

“The fish we were trying to protect — lower river Chinook — have moved into the tribs and are spawning now,” says WDFW’s Cindy LeFleur in Vancouver.

JACQUELINE S. OF PORTLAND SHOWS OFF A COLUMBIA FALL BRIGHT, CAUGHT IN MID-SEPTEMBER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Just don’t expect late-August and early-September style action this late in the run.

“It isn’t going to be too much” of a sport catch, she cautions . “We’re on the tail end of the run.”

Still, this week has seen counts of 1,216, 974, 721 and 717 upriver brights over Bonneville Dam, thanks perhaps to an unusual late bump in the run.

Joe Hymer, another fisheries biologist based in Vancouver as well as local angler suggests:

“Towards Bonneville boat anglers do well back-trolling sardine-wrapped Kwikfish. Probably still a chance to catch a fish downriver anchored with a wobbler but a better chance of catching coho and an outside chance of catching a Chinook trolling spinners especially at the mouth of the Cowlitz.”

It’s unclear why there was a second peak.

“I was wondering if they were Snake fish, Hanford fish, but the PIT tags are from everywhere,” says LeFleur.

PIT tags are tiny beacons implanted in salmon and steelhead snouts with individual codes for each fish. They are read by arrays at the dams on the Columbia.

Data from this past decade shows there can be big late days at Bonneville, but nothing like the trio of quintuple-fish days in late September.

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