Lower Columbia Reopening For Springers

The Lower Columbia will reopen for springers starting Sunday, May 15, and an old friend from earlier this season will also be there: high water.

Currently the river is rolling at about 285,000 cubic feet per second at Bonneville, and is forecast to be at 353,000 cfs by Sunday and a whopping 470,000 cfs by Wednesday.

“That’s a lot of water,” says fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver.

He does allow that there will be springers to catch in the big river — jacks and adults — as well as summer steelhead and sockeye.

While the boat fishing area has been moved closer to the dam, plunking from shore may be your best bet. Here are some rigs you might consider using:

(NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

For a map of the better plunking beaches, see our May issue, on newsstands now!

High but cold water and a later-returning run depressed sport catches in March and April.

However, since late April, springers have been pouring over Bonneville Dam, leading managers to upgrade the run size this week by 11,000 fish or so to 210,000.

That also gives the nontribal fleets more fish to catch.

At least 11,555 have been caught so far by sport anglers below Bonneville, from there to the Washington-Oregon border east of McNary Dam and on the Lower Snake as well as by the commercials, according to a fact sheet sent out earlier today.

“This leaves a balance of 3,800 upriver fish currently available for the recreational fishery downstream of Bonneville,” says the fact sheet.

According to Allen Thomas of The Columbian, managers will meet on Monday and may bump the run projection even higher.

WDFW’s Cindy LeFleur says that the decision to reopen the lower river fishery for springers doesn’t apply to the waters above Bonneville Dam and the Snake River.

“The Columbia River fishery above Bonneville Dam closed May 10 after anglers reached their catch allocation under the new run forecast. On the Snake River, spring chinook fishing will close below Ice Harbor Dam May 14 and on the rest of the river May 16. There, too, anglers are expected to reach their current catch allocation after a stretch of good fishing,” reads a press release from WDFW.

“We may consider reopening fisheries in those areas if strong returns of spring chinook salmon keep bumping up the run forecast,” LeFleur said in the release.  “But that will be a separate decision.”

Here are the regs, according to a notice from WDFW:

2011 Lower Columbia River Spring Chinook Recreational Fishery

Sunday May 15 through Wednesday June 15, 2011.

Area: Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank) plus bank angling only from Beacon Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam.

The boundary at Beacon Rock is defined as: A line projected from a sign posted on a dock on the Oregon shoreline across to the exposed downstream end of Pierce Island, then across to a sign posted on the Washington shoreline at Beacon Rock.

Catch limit: Retention of sockeye, adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon, and adipose fin-clipped steelhead allowed.  Sockeye salmon count towards the adult limit regardless of size.

Daily bag limit includes up to two adult salmon/steelhead in combination, but only one may be a Chinook.

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