564 Springers Caught In Columbia So Far

Anglers have kept 564 spring Chinook on the lower Columbia River this season through last Sunday, most of which have been bound for tribs above Bonneville Dam.

Another 107 have been released.

That according to stats from stats junkie Joe Hymer, a biologist stationed in Vancouver.

“Through March 6, there have been an estimated 13,452 angler trips. 508 (90%) of the Chinook kept were upriver origin based upon sampling for Visual Stock Identification,” he reports in an email sent out this afternoon.

“It isn’t like everyone’s catching them,” confirms Buzz Ramsey this afternoon, though he and Eric Linde nabbed one and lost one today in the Interstate stretch.

They launched out of 42nd Street/Gleason by PDX and trolled herring and Fish Flashes downhill above I-5 at tide change.

“We hooked the two real close together,” Ramsey says.

ERIC LINDE AND BUZZ RAMSEY WITH THEIR MARCH 9 INTERSTATE SPRINGER. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

He reports 20 to 25 trailers in the parking area. One angler who came in ahead of them phoned back to say that his boat was the 20th checked and the first with a springer.

Hymer says that the total of 280 springers caught in February is the second highest tally for the month since 1978, when 294 were retained.

However, March’s first six days alone topped last month by four. It also saw the Columbia open for fishing above the I-5 bridge.

Last year, it appears that all of 128 were bonked in February.

AMONG THE ESTIMATED 564 SPRINGERS CAUGHT SO FAR, THIS ONE BY RYAN ROBINSON IN THE DAVIS BAR AREA. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Almost all of the catch so far has been by boaters. Only seven have been kept by shore anglers, and all of those on the Washington side.

The best area — or at least most productive at any rate — has been what managers call River Section 3, the water from the mouth of the Willamette up to the I-205 bridge area. A total of 181 have been retained there.

Second best is the water from the Willamette to the mouth of the Lewis. Sixty-one have been kept in that reach.

It’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but the catch is above last year’s pace. Last March Hymer reported, “From Feb. 1-March 14, 2010, there have been an estimated 21,500 angler trips with 800 chinook handled from the lower Columbia mainstem sport fishery below Bonneville Dam.  698 (88%) of the chinook caught were kept.  68% of the chinook kept were lower river stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).”

Hymer reports that 52 steelhead have also been kept this season, 117 let go.

The Bonneville Dam count sits at 29 through March 8; the 10-year average through yesterday is 160. Last year, only 10 had gone past it by this time.

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