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Netters seek Tuesday chinook angling closures
Thursday, January 24, 2008
BY ALLEN THOMAS, Columbian staff writer

The commercial fishing industry is asking Washington and Oregon to close sports fishing for five Tuesdays in late March and April while they net spring chinook salmon in the Columbia River.

Specifically, the commercials want the state to close between Interstate 5 and Bonneville Dam on March 25, plus April 1, 8, 15 and 22 to avoid conflicts with sportsmen.

All commercial fishing for spring chinook in 2008 is expected to be between the mouth of Oregon's Willamette River and Bonneville Dam. That's because a very strong run of 269,300 spring chinook is forecast for waters upstream of Bonneville, while a weak run of only 34,000 Willamette River spring chinook is anticipated.

The commercials are expected to have an allocation of about 7,200 upper Columbia spring chinook, although that is subject to decisions to be made Feb. 2 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and Feb. 8 by the Oregon commission.

The commercials get only about 300 Willamette chinook at such a low run size, enough fish to allow for incidental catches at off-channel netting sites such as Youngs Bay at Astoria.

Gillnetting in the spring is done normally downstream of the Willamette to the ocean. The commercials prefer the wider and deeper waters of the lower Columbia, plus the processing plants are closer.

John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the commercials believe only about half their fleet will relocate upstream of Interstate 5.

Many commercials have their nets rigged for fish waters deeper than found mostly upstream of I-5. The commercials also believe their nets will be less efficient upstream of I-5, North said.

The I-5 bridge might not be the downstream boundary, either.

State officials are looking at possibly moving the deadline to the lower tip of Hayden Island, which adds a couple of miles of deep water yet still leaves a buffer upstream of the mouth of the Willamette at Kelley Point.

Cindy LeFleur of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the boundary will be the same for the sport and commercial fleets.

Randy Woolsey, a member of the bi-state Columbia River Recreational Fishing Advisory Group, said he has some concerns about the proposed Tuesday closures.

Sportsmen might avoid the Columbia on Wednesdays, and maybe Thursdays, making crowding even more acute toward the weekends, he said.

Parking at boat ramps between I-5 and Bonneville Dam is expected to be in short supply this spring. On the Washington side, there are ramps and parking at Marine Park in Vancouver, the Port of Camas-Washougal, Beacon Rock State Park and Hamilton Island.

Washington and Oregon officials expect 80,000 to 110,000 angler trips in March and April if fishing stays open through both months. The sports handle of upper Columbia chinook is expected to be 23,000 to 28,000, depending on the allocation decision of the two state commissions.

Members of the bi-state advisory group said they'd like to see a season that includes fishing daily in March and April between Bonneville Dam and I-5, plus March and a week in April downstream of I-5.

Bonneville pool - The opening of the reservoir behind Bonneville Dam for spring chinook fishing is being discussed for this year.

In the past, the only portions of the Bonneville pool open have been at the mouth of Wind River, Drano Lake (a backwater at the mouth of the Little White Salmon River) and the upper six miles of the pool between Tower Island and The Dalles Dam.

Lance Beckman of White Salmon, an advisory group member, said anglers in the Stevenson-to-Hood River area are clamoring for more fishing space.

LeFleur said opening the Bonneville pool would take a portion of the catch away from downstream of Bonneville Dam in order to not exceed overall harvest limits

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You know I've been trying to respond to this for a while, but I don't even know where to start. This might be off track a little, but they shouldn't even allow nets at all! Period! They're indiscriminate killers that destroy everything they come in contact with. Now the netters want the sport fishermen out of their way? If it wasn't for the sporties dumping millions of dollars into hatcheries and restoration there wouldn't be any fish left. What really needs to happen, is to get rid of all the nets!
 

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Wow... the Commies are belly aching about having to work a little harder and longer to get their fish... BOO-HOO.

Ive had to work a LOT harder to get my fish the last 10 years becuase of over Harvest and Poor management... I guess maybe these Commercials should look for a new line of work, if they arent willing to sacrifice like all of us Average joes.

I wonder how many oversized sturgeon will die in those Gillnets up near Bonniville.
 

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Somehow I'm not surprised to see this response from the commercials. It's not our fault they don't have the right gear and I have no pity whatsoever. If they want to net that badly then buy the stuff and shut up. Give me a break. First they kill everything that gets into the net then they want us off the river. Last time I checked that was public ground.
 
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