Columbia Springer/SW WA Fishing Update (4-11-11)

In what should be the thick of the hottest spring Chinook fishing of the year on the Columbia, last weekend saw the lowest catch rate since Y2K.

Here’s hoping that the run forecast of 198,000 upriver springers and 100K back to the Willamette doesn’t fizzle as bad as … wait a minute, I think I’m screwing up my metaphors here.

For what it’s worth, creel sampling indicates just one springer kept or released for every 10.5 boat rods on the lower river.

“Boat anglers averaged an adult chinook kept/released per every 2.9 rods in 2010, 5.9 rods in 2009, 2.5 rods in 2008, 4.1 rods in 2007, 7.2 rods in 2006, 6.4 rods in 2005, 3.0 rods in 2004, 5.6 rods in 2003, 4.9 rods in 2002, and 4.6 rods in 2001,” reports a certain Mr. Doom & Gloom in Vancouver this afternoon.

That after last Wednesday’s four-hour commercial fishery yielded 776 springers, around two-thirds of the available fish for netters. They could only retain the first six hatchery adult Chinook.

So what’s going on? Well, the dam count sucks, and the river blows.

“After reaching 400,000 cfs at Bonneville Dam on April 6th, flows are expected to average just under 300,000 cfs for at least the next week and a half.  The 10-year average for this time of year is 183,000 cfs,” reports fisheries biologist Joe Hymer. “In addition to high flows, water visibility is also reduced at Bonneville Dam with less than 3 feet each day during the past week.”

A total of 659 springers have gone over the dam through yesterday, or 4 percent of the 10-year average. That’s better than some recent late-timed runs, worse than others.

All of it has me swearing off any more spring Chinook covers. NWS ad guys: You’re going to have to sell around a burbot cover next March.

But should you want to hit it again, the river below Bonneville, which closed April 5, reopened to fishing April 8-15. Managers will also take a look at the catch this Thursday to figure out if we can have more time on the river.

In the meanwhile, here’s more from Hymer weekly roundup of fishing around Southwest Washington — may we suggest taking advantage of some of those fine trout stockings?


Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.  Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 743 winter-run steelhead and four spring Chinook adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 57 steelhead and one spring Chinook adult into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek and 20 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 11,700 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 11. Water visibility is four feet.

East Fork Lewis from mouth to top boat ramp at Lewisville Park and Washougal River from mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Saturday April 16. Selective gear rules will be in effect; no bait may be used.

Drano Lake – 3 bank anglers had no catch.  Beginning this week, closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through at least May.

Klickitat River – Light effort and no catch was observed.  1 bank angler had no catch.

Lower Columbia mainstem  below Bonneville Dam – Kind of a quiet re-opener on the lower Columbia mainstem – only 400 salmonid boats and 500 bank anglers were observed during the Friday April 8 effort flight count.

From April 8-10 we sampled 1,436 anglers (including 440 boats) with 108 adult and 1 jack chinook and 11 steelhead.  Boat anglers averaged an adult Chinook kept/released per every 10.5 rods while bank anglers averaged one per every 32.3 rods based on mainly completed and incomplete trips, respectively.

Eighty-eight (81%) of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  85% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).  Six (55%) of the steelhead caught were kept.

In comparison to previous years during this period, this year’s catch rate is the lowest since at least 2000. Boat anglers averaged an adult chinook kept/released per every 2.9 rods in 2010, 5.9 rods in 2009, 2.5 rods in 2008, 4.1 rods in 2007, 7.2 rods in 2006, 6.4 rods in 2005, 3.0 rods in 2004, 5.6 rods in 2003, 4.9 rods in 2002, and 4.6 rods in 2001.

Through April 10, just 659 adult chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam.  Last year 7,148 fish had been counted at this time.  The recent 10-year average is 16,764.

Bonneville Pool – Light effort and no catch was observed.  1 bank angler had no catch.The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching a few spring chinook.

John Day Pool – No salmonid anglers were sampled.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – A few legals were caught by boat anglers from Vancouver to Kalama.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some legals.  An estimated 87 (29%) of the 300 fish guideline had been taken through March.

John Day Pool – Closed for sturgeon retention through the remainder of the year.


The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged 3.2 walleye per rod.  Bank anglers are catching some bass.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged just under ½ walleye kept per rod.


Silver Lake near Castle Rock – The water continues to be fairly cold (50F) for warm water fish.  Rainbow trout are being caught however.  5 anglers kept 4 rainbows and released 1.

Siler Mill Pond in Lewis County – Planted with 1,103 catchable size rainbows April 4.  No report on angling success.

South Lewis County Park Pond near Toledo – Planted with 2,976 catchable size rainbows April 5.  No report on angling success.

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – Planted with 3,010 catchable size rainbows April 4.   No report on angling success.

Kress Lake near Kalama – Planted with 2,000 catchable size rainbows April 5.  Producing good catches.  13 anglers kept 7 rainbows and released 15 rainbows and 1 brown.  Water temp 50F.  Cormorants are very active on the lake right now.

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – Planted with 8,005 browns April 4-6.  Little to no effort and no fish caught during creel surveys. 2 anglers had no catch. Water temp 48F.

Merwin Reservoir –  Fishing continues to be great. Anglers are catching kokanee near the surface.  42 anglers kept 130 kokanee and released 9 plus 5 rainbows. Water temperature was 45F and there were 31 boat trailers.

Battleground Lake – Planted with 6,800 rainbows averaging over ½ pound each April 6. No report on angling success.

Lacamas Lake near Camas – Planted with 6,864 browns weighing almost ½ pound each April 4. No report on angling success.


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