Columbia Springer Update (4-4-11)

With 1,200 to 1,300 springers left in the commercial quota till a run update later this month — including 911 upriver-bound fish — Columbia River salmon managers approved a six-hour fishery for this Wednesday.

Netters will only be allowed to retain the first six hatchery salmon that show up in their net, and they must sail back to port after the final keeper comes aboard.

That was the third of three options that Oregon and Washington managers considered today.

The other two were to just wait a couple weeks or run a more intensive two-hour-or-so fishery.

It appears to have been a struggle for managers to figure out how to allow another commercial fishery. Netters caught 1,263 springers last week, about half of what had been modeled.

“With Chinook abundance generally increasing, developing a fishing period to allow access to harvestable fish is challenging. Staff continues to put forth recommendations that are very conservative in order to reduce the risk of exceeding pre-update allowances,” reads a fact sheet fired off from Vancouver early this afternoon.

Last night’s test fishery between roughly Tongue Point and the mouth of the Lewis yielded fewer total springers than the previous two tests — 78 to 176 and 103 — but did produce 4.3 per drift, compared to 2.8 and 5.2.

The sport catch has roughly been following expectations. Our season, which draws to a close tonight, will be reviewed on Wednesday afternoon. There may be a chance for more fishing IF there’s room in the guideline of 7,750 above-Bonneville-bound springers. Otherwise we have to wait until a  run-size update in several weeks before getting any more possible time on the Columbia.

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