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Upper Columbia chinook fishing starts this Sunday

By The Daily News
Phase one of the Columbia River spring chinook season gets under way on Sunday, though it will be another week before anglers can fish in the lower parts of the river.

The spring chinook fishery will get under way this Sunday, March 16, upriver from the west power lines on Hayden Island near Vancouver. The fishing isn't likely to be great to begin with; as of midweek, only 20 spring chinook had passed upriver of Bonneville Dam.

The Wind River and Drano Lake also open for spring chinook fishing March 16, and the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis rivers have been open for chinook since Jan. 1. Anglers have already pulled a few springers from those rivers, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, though the fish usually don't start arriving en masse until early April.

When they do, fishery managers are expecting 269,300 chinook salmon to return to the Columbia River and its tributaries above Bonneville Dam, the third largest run since 1977. That compares to just 86,230 fish last year.

Fishing seasons on the mainstem Columbia River, announced by WDFW last month, are as follows:

Buoy 10 to the west power lines on Hayden Island: Salmon fishing will be open seven days per week from March 24 to April 4 with a daily limit of one hatchery adult chinook salmon.

West power lines on Hayden Island to Bonneville Dam: Salmon fishing will be open from March 16 through April 30, with a daily limit of one hatchery adult chinook salmon. Beginning March 24, the sport fishery will be closed for all species from one hour after official sunset Mondays to one hour before official sunrise Wednesdays.

As in previous seasons, anglers must release any chinook salmon with an intact adipose fish to conserve wild fish.

Below Bonneville Dam, this year's fishery will focus on waters upriver from Hayden Island, a strategy designed to protect a weak run to the Willamette River. Catch limits will be restricted to one chinook salmon a day on that part of the river to meet escapement goals and to help extend the length of the season.

Above Bonneville Dam, anglers fishing the mainstem Columbia River will be able to keep two chinook salmon and two steelhead from March 16 through May 10.

Drano Lake, at the mouth of the Little White Salmon River, is expected to be a major contributor to that fishery, with an expected run of 36,800 spring chinook this year. That would be a record, topping the return of 20,600 fish in 2002, Hymer said.

Anglers should be aware that the shoreline outside the mouth of Drano Lake will be open for bank fishing for the first time in 30 years. In all, this year's fishing regulations will open up 40 additional miles of bank fishing on the mainstem Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines six miles below The Dalles Dam.

"I think the best bet will be at the mouth of Drano Lake," Hymer said. "Casting a plug or lure from shore is sure to produce fish." Anglers fishing the newly opened bank are asked to follow three rules: Don't cross the highway, don't trespass over the railroad tracks and don't interfere with tribal fisheries.

The Wind River, with an expected run of 10,000 fish, should also contribute to fisheries above Bonneville Dam this year. Less than half that many fish returned to the Wind last year, prompting WDFW to curtail fishing seasons.

That is unlikely to happen again this year, Hymer said. "The pre-season forecast indicates that we should have plenty of fish to meet escapement goals and still provide a full fishery," he said.

Skamania County has restrictions when vehicles can be parked at the Wind River and Drano Lake boat launches. Skamania County will be actively checking that boat anglers pay for launching at these sites even if they park along the road/highway.

The DFW will be using the parking lot at Fort Cascade (near the entrance to the bank fishing areas just below Bonneville Dam and the Hamilton Island boat launch) to improve creel sampling during the upcoming spring chinook sport fishery. When open, anglers will be asked to stop at the sampling station and provide information.

The Klickitat River opens in April with a one-fish daily limit. Like last year, only about 1,100 spring chinook are expected to return to the Klickitat this season and fishing will again be limited to only Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Anglers planning for fish for spring chinook can get a daily count of fish passing Bonneville Dam at

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Oh yeah!!!!, i gotta quite reading about the springers, i'll never finish classes for the quarter. You guys wanna quite posting about springers till I finish my finals on monday, that'd help me out a ton, I have no self-control :roll:
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