For The Broadside
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are expecting almost half a million Chinook Salmon to enter the Columbia River system in the spring of 2010.
According to a preliminary outlook report published by the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife offices, 470,000 salmon ranging from four to upwards of 40 pounds are expected to enter the Columbia system making this the potentially largest run since the construction of the dams on the Columbia.
“Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of fish to work with and a decent Willamette run,” said Steve Williams of the ODFW about the 150 percent run increase projection compared to last year’s.
The ODFW and WDFW and Wildlife attribute the huge run to increased hatchery success and the best ocean conditions in many years for salmon
In recent reports, the ODFW and WDFW have decided to close the main stem of the Columbia to spring salmon fishing from the mouth near Astoria to McNary Dam near Umatilla, Oregon.
This is due to the two agencies, the ODFW and WDFW, having set fairly conservative catch quotas for the river, despite large return potentials.
The two agencies have stated that they have met those quotas.
One Fish and Wildlife official interviewed on the river stated that this particular quota system “needs to be revamped, it’s an old system for the old way of doing things.” He stated that, in his opinion, “the quotas should be set by the area the fish are caught in, not the entire river.”
Only retention of hatchery fish are allowed, “wild” fish are to be released in the water, unharmed. Hatchery fish are identified by having a clipped adipose fin, located on the fishes back near the tail. Wild fish will have an unclipped, very visible fin.
Unlike the Columbia, the lower Deschutes River is expected to be open to spring salmon fishing until July. The Deschutes River is expected to get a handful of this fish from the Columbia run and predictions are good. ODFW has estimated 7,500 and 8,500 hatchery fish for anglers to target.
The season on the Deschutes is currently open to fishing below Sherars Falls near Maupin and the limit is two adipose fin clipped salmon per day. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures for most of the river but bait fishing is allowed for 3 miles downriver from Sherars Falls. This area tends to attract the most attention from anglers due to the higher success rates when using bait. The most common baits are salmon eggs and tuna balls bounced off the bottom of the river in deeper holes or in the falls area.
Fishing in the falls area can require some local knowledge due to the fast current and rocky cliffs, consulting a local guide shop is a good idea. Local fisherman, such as Isaac Gansberg, are excited about the potential fishing this run may offer.
“I’m hoping to get down to the lower Deschutes as much as possible,” said Gansberg. “This run is supposed to be epic.”
You may contact Cody Montgomery at email@example.com