And suddenly the dam counts blasted off.
Yesterday, 4,787 spring Chinook went over Bonneville, more than doubling the tally for the year so far, and three-quarters of all the salmon that have gone over Willamette Falls in 2011 did so on Tuesday as well.
An eastside angler with his eyes on the fish cam at Bonnie emailed me in early afternoon to say, “There are fish streaming over the dam right now. I just saw three in the frame at once, and here’s a screen shot of two in the ladder at once. I have seen a dozen or so in the last few minutes, and those are just the ones caught in the still frame image!”
“They’re here right now,” reports Portland salmon angler Andy Schneider about the Willamette this morning. “Monday: on fire! Tuesday: decent. Today: slow!”
Columbia outflows have dropped from a high of 375,000 cubic feet per second earlier this month into the 250,000 cfs range at the dam, and the river has warmed by several degrees to over 48 — though it’s still several degrees below the 10-year average. Biologists have also been telling me there’s just more fish in the lower river now.
Tuesday’s big count followed the year’s first four-digit day, 1,019 fish on Monday.
So far, 9,632 have gone over the dam 144 miles above the mouth of the mighty crick.
Salmon fishing is closed below there but remains open from there to the Washington-Oregon line east of McNary Dam through this weekend — see ODFW’s regs for more — and at Drano Lake (closed today) where guide Bob Barthlow was picking some up earlier this week and at Wind River.
The lower Willamette is open, anglers are posting nice catches on their Facebook pages and the count at the falls has gone from single- and low-double-digit days through most of the “spring” to 109 on Monday and 764 yesterday, for a total of 1,052 for the year.
Yesterday, water temps had risen to 51 degrees, visibility was at 4 feet and flows were at 30,400 cfs. A week before, those readings were at 48, 1.5 and 61,000, respectively.
But what else is fishing in Oregon for this weekend?
Here are highlights ripped straight from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:
- Despite some snowy, slushy conditions, trout fishing at Diamond Lake was good on opening weekend with some fish over 20-inches long.
- Fishing for hatchery winter steelhead has been very good on the South Umpqua. The South is open through April 30.
- Spring chinook fishing has been good on lower Roque River and should improve as temperatures increase and flows decrease.
- Anglers are still catching winter steelhead on the upper Rogue river, and the first spring chinook has arrived at Cole Rivers Hatchery.
- Now is a great time to fish many of the lakes, ponds and reservoirs throughout the area – many have been recently stocked and are fishing well.
- North Coast lakes: Sunset, Lost and Coffenbury lakes, and Vernonia Pond are scheduled to be stocked the week of May 2. North Lake was stocked last week, and South Lake was stocked with all remaining fish that had not been made up yet. Fishing should be very good at these lakes.
- Tillamook Bay: Sturgeon fishing is fair. Effort was relatively light on the last tide series. A good low tide series in early may should provide good fishing conditions. Fish sand shrimp on the bottom near the channel edges during the outgoing tide, especially during low tide series. Move often to find fish if you are not getting bites. Spring chinook angling should begin to pick up soon, but angling is very slow at this time. Trolling Herring in the lower bay or near shore ocean generally produces the first fish of the year.
- Wilson River: Fishing for winter steelhead has been good when the river is in shape. The first summer steelhead of the year was reported caught recently. Fishing should continue to be good this week depending on water conditions. Good numbers of fish are in the system throughout the open fishing areas, but fewer bright winter steelhead are still showing up. Boaters need to use extreme caution around MP 6 due or avoid that section of river due to a large tree partially blocking the river. Spring chinook are not expected to show up in any numbers until May.
- The North Willamette trout stocking program gets into full swing this weekend with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife releases more than 65,000 trout at more than 30 locations around the Willamette Valley for the traditional opening of early trout season.
- The Willamette River below Willamette Falls is shaping up after the extended period of spring rain and should be in good condition for chinook salmon fishing by the end of the week. Chinook are starting to cross the falls in increasing numbers, with a couple of triple digit days last week.
- While sturgeon retention on the Willamette River closed March 17, the river remains open to catch-and-release fishing.
- There have been several angler reports of good kokanee fishing on Haystack Reservoir.
- Spring chinook seasons are open on both the Deschutes and Hood rivers.
- Several lakes and reservoirs in the areas, including South Twin, Odell, Crane Prairie and Wickiup, are accessible and open to fishing.
- Trout fishing in Klamath and Agency Lakes has improved with the warmer temperatures. Target the spring areas and shorelines.
- Several area lakes and streams are now open for trout fishing including Burnt River, Wood River, Crooked Creek, Upper Williamson, Upper Williamson, Eagle Creek and Krumbo and Pilcher reservoirs.
- Fishing for holdover trout has been fair on Wallowa Lake.
- There will be a family fishing event at Peach Pond (Ladd Marsh) on May 7 from 8:00am-1:00pm. Fishing rods, gear and instruction will be provided.
- Several area water bodies have been stocked and have been offering some good fishing.
- A few crappie, perch, and bass are being caught if you can get to them. Water levels are extremely low as of Monday, April 25 (64 feet below full). Sweed’s landing is the only place to get in right now. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their website http://www.idahopower.com/OurEnvironment/WaterInformation/Reservoir/
- Angling is CLOSED for salmon, steelhead, and shad in the lower Columbia from the Buoy 10 line upstream to Bonneville Dam.
- Spring chinook angling is open Monday April 25 – Sunday May 1, between Tower Island and the Oregon/Washington border above McNary Dam plus the Oregon and Washington banks between Bonneville Dam and Tower Island.
- Walleye fishing is excellent in The Dalles Pool.
- Sturgeon anglers are catching a few keepers between Portland and Bonneville Dam.
- Last week provided several good days where anglers could pursue bottom fish. Lingcod are still on the bite and both private and charter boats returned with good catches of rockfish and limits or near limits of lingcod.
- While fishing in the ocean for chinook salmon (and other non-coho salmon) opened March 15 so far there are no recorded sport catches. Some commercial boats are finding fish, however. Fishing will continue until April 30 from Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford.