Latest from The Spokesman-Review
FISHING — The 2014 fall chinook run to the Columbia River is coming up short of expectations — but it's still at least the second best return since Bonneville Dam was built and fish counting started in 1938.
Here are the highlights of Columbia forecasts and observations released today from Washington and Oregon salmon managers:
Stock Status Updates
- Passage of adult fall Chinook at Bonneville Dam through September 23 totals 741,500 fish. Typically, passage is about 90% complete by this date.
- The 2014 Columbia River return is currently projected to reach 1,183,300 adult fall Chinook, including 677,600 Upriver Bright (URB) stock Chinook. The preseason forecast was 1,510,600 of which 919,000 were expected to be URBs.
- The total expected fall Chinook return (including URBs) is the 2nd largest since at least 1938. The 2013 is record return with 1,268,400 fall Chinook including 784,300 URBs.
- Passage of upriver summer steelhead at Bonneville Dam through September 23 totals 282,100 fish. Passage has been slightly greater than expectations. Upriver summer steelhead passage (July-October) is currently projected to reach 296,600 fish at Bonneville Dam, including 37,500 Group B stock (9,350 wild).
- Passage of adult upriver coho at Bonneville Dam through September 23 totals 156,000 fish. The counting period for this early stock component continues through September 30. Upriver early-stock coho passage at Bonneville is projected to reach 167,000 adult fish, compared to a preseason expectation of 102,200 fish.
FISHING — Although it's clearly a gigantic run — and still likely to be a record — the size of the 2014 run of fall chinook heading up the Columbia River was officially downgraded from its earlier forecast today.
Washington and Oregon fish managers issued a report that downgraded the forecast from 1.51 million adult fall chinook to 1.26 million — or slightly above last year's record run.
Officially, the Columbia River Compact reported:
Passage of adult fall Chinook at Bonneville Dam since August 1 totals 630,800 fish. Daily
counts reached over 67,000 fish (September 7 and 8) and have slowly declined to 21,000 fish
per day (September 17). Based on the 10-year average, passage is 76% complete by September
17. The most recent in-season runsize estimates from TAC (9/15) include a Columbia River
return of 723,500 Upriver Bright (URB) and 110,000 Bonneville Pool Hatchery (BPH) adult
Chinook. The 2014 Columbia River return is projected to reach nearly 1,258,000 adult fall
Chinook (83% of preseason forecast of 1,510,600 adult fall Chinook)
Forget the change and go fishing.
UPDATED 9:15 a.m. with report from guide.
FISHING — What a difference a week makes when there's a big upstream surge of fall chinook into the Columbia River
Fishing success in the Hanford Reach is mushrooming as expected, according to creel surveys taken last week and reported today by Paul Hoffarth, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist in the Tri-Cities.
Here's the latest report, for Sept. 8-14:
An estimated 1,385 boats fished for salmon in the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 and Priest Rapids Dam) this past week. WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 543 boats (1,351 anglers:7,790 pole hours). An estimated 972 adult chinook and 125 jacks were harvested this past week. Boats averaged just under a chinook per boat. Harvest in most of the mid to upstream areas is better than a fish per boat. Aquatic vegetation in the water in the downstream areas of the Reach is making fishing difficult.
Staff also interviewed 100 bank anglers (379 hours) fishing for salmon at Ringold with seven chinook harvested.
There were an estimated 3,448 angler trips for fall Chinook in the Tri-cities this past week. Fall Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam have been holding steady at ~ 30,000 adult chinook per day.
Compare that with last week's report, for Sept. 1-7:
An estimated 583 boats fished for salmon in the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 and Priest Rapids Dam) this past week. WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 216 boats (412 anglers:2,422 pole hours). An estimated 170 adult chinook and 5 jacks were harvested this past week. Boats averaged roughly 1/3 of a chinook per boat. Harvest began picking up at all area launches over the weekend.
Staff also interviewed 63 bank anglers (183 hours) fishing for salmon at Ringold with one chinook harvested.
Keep in mind that the two consecutive one-day record surges over Bonneville dam were just getting settled into Hanford Reach below Priest Rapids Dam this weekend.
It's game on.
- Spokane fishing guide Dave Grove of Captain Dave's Guide Service just sent me a photo with a client holding a big chinook. Grove said it's the 27th chinook netted into his boat since he started fishing the Hanford Reach this weekend.
FISHING — In case you've been in a coma for the past few weeks, let me remind you that a forecast record of 1.6 million chinook salmon is stampeding up the Columbia River.
A one-day record of 67,024 chinook was counted on Sunday, Sept. 7, only to be exceeded Monday by a record rush of 67,521 chinook.
It takes about seven days for upriver brights going over Bonneville to work their way upstream and get settled into the Hanford Reach, says Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist.
That means 100,000-150,000 fish will be slamming into the reach this weekend.
Last year’s record run of nearly 1.2 million chinook was dominated by 3-year-old fish averaging 8-12 pounds. More than 70 percent of this year’s run is comprised of 4- and 5-year-olds, the bulk of them running 18-23 pounds.
Anglers have already been catching early arrivals.
On Sunday, Spokane fishing guide Dave Grove of Captain Dave’s Guide Service (509 939-6727) helped his clients catch three adult chinook. Wild as well as unmarked hatchery salmon can be kept in the Reach. His anglers also caught a jack and released two wild steelhead.
I caught fish with Grove on Monday and the rumor that upriver brights are for the smoker is overstated. Our fish were delicious off the grill. You have to fish harder and perhaps release some to find brighter fish in October, but it can be done.
But whether they come off the smoker or grill, this is a not-to-miss run of fish.
Hoffarth calls the forecast of 1.6 million adult fall chinook “uncharted territory for fish managers," with "incredible numbers that are hard to believe."
WATERSPORTS — No need to travel to Alaska for a good dose of pesky biting insects.
The National Park Service has issued a media release warning visitors heading to Lake Roosevelt for the holiday weekend to be ready for mosquitoes at the campgrounds, boat launches and day use facilities.
Conditions this summer at the reservoir that stretches up to 150-miles behind Grand Coulee Dam have been optimal for mosquitoes, officials say.
"Visitors, park staff, our neighbors, and our partners have been dealing with an extraordinarily large mosquito population, especially in the north district near Kettle Falls," says the release.
The National Park Service encourages visitors to plan to protect themselves from mosquitoes during their stay, especially at dawn and dusk. Loose fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants that provide ‘depth’ combined with a mosquito repellant will offer good protection. When using mosquito repellants look for products registered with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, always follow label instructions, and take special care when applying to children. Also, make sure screens to windows and doors on recreational vehicles and tents are in good working order.
While park staff understands from personal experience the desire to control the mosquito population, National Park Service regulations, policies, and guidance protecting natural resources of this area do not allow for spraying programs unless mosquitoes are found to be carrying diseases, such as West Nile.
The National Park Service at Lake Roosevelt relies on monitoring information from the surrounding health districts, Washington State Department of Health, and the mosquito control districts of eastern Washington in determining the level of risk to human health from mosquito borne viral diseases.
To date, the National Park Service is unaware of infected mosquitos found in the immediate vicinity of Lake Roosevelt.
FISHING — Patience.
A record run of fall chinook is headed to the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River below Priest Rapids Dam.
But they ain't there yet, according to this creek report from Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in the Tri-Cities.
An estimated 212 boats fished for salmon in the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 and Priest Rapids Dam) this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 14 boats (25 anglers:100 pole hours) fishing for salmon with no catch. Staff also interviewed 8 bank anglers at Ringold with no catch.
Above are the latest graphs showing fish moving over Bonneville Dam, the first dam the fish encounter up the Columbia from the ocean, as well as McNary Dam, the last dam the salmon negotiate before heading either toward the Snake or up the Columbia into the Hanford Reach.
FISHING — Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are seeking public comments on 32 proposed sportfishing rules they’re recommending for the Columbia River Basin.
The proposals cover fishing seasons, daily limits and other rules for the Columbia River Basin and mainstem Columbia River.
For example, WDFW is recommending proposals that would:
- Close all rivers, streams and beaver ponds in the Columbia River Basin to fishing unless otherwise stated in the rules pamphlet, and implement additional conservation measures to provide greater protection for juvenile anadromous fish.
- Change open dates for most year-round lakes to March 1 through Oct. 31 for lakes in Asotin, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima and Walla Walla counties.
- Eliminate the retention of sturgeon on the Snake River and its tributaries. Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing would be maintained.
Review all of the rule proposals and comment on this WDFW webpage.
Comments will be accepted through Oct. 16.
Fisheries managers have recommended 32 of the proposals submitted by the public in May move forward for additional review. The webpage has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.
Five public meetings are scheduled through September to discuss the proposed rules with the public, including two in far-Eastern Washington:
- Clarkston: 6 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 26, Walla Walla Community College, Clarkston Main Building Multipurpose Room, 1470 Bridge St.
- Spokane Valley: 6 to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 27, WDFW Spokane Regional Office, 2315 N. Discovery Place
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will get it's first formal look at the revised proposals at a Nov. 7-8 meeting in Olympia.
FISHING — This announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is good news if you're champing at the bit to cast for the early portion of the record run of fall chinook heading up the Columbia River.
Action: Fall chinook season opens two days early to coincide with Labor Day weekend.
Effective date: Aug 30, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).
Species affected: Chinook salmon
Location: Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam
General Rules: Daily limit six (6) chinook only; up to two adults may be retained. All other rules for Columbia River apply, including barbless hooks. Two poles allowed through Aug 31, 2014.
Reason for action: The standard opening date for fall chinook in the Priest Rapids Pool is September 1. With Labor Day weekend falling on August 30, 2014, opening two days early will allow for additional angling opportunity.
Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.
Monitor fishing rule changes on the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the WDFW webpage.
FISHING — Not much time left, according to this announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Action: Lake Wenatchee closes for sockeye salmon fishing.
Effective date: Sept. 1, 2014 (one hour after official sunset).
Species affected: Sockeye salmon
Location: Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.)
Reason for action: The majority of adult sockeye salmon currently in Lake Wenatchee will soon become largely unavailable to anglers due to their annual migration to the spawning grounds on the White and Little Wenatchee Rivers. Sockeye condition and desirability will have declined drastically. This closure will further reduce unnecessary impacts to bull trout with such relatively few sockeye still being present in Lake Wenatchee.
WATERSPORTS — The Enterprise Boat-in Campground has been re-opened as the Enterprise fire has been controlled on Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
The popular campground for boaters southwest of Hunters is open on a first-come, first-served basis.
"For your safety, we request that you stay out of the burned area and at least 100 yards from the burned area even on the water," National Park Service officials say in a media release.
The Enterprise Fire will continue to produce smoke as scattered pockets of brush, stumps, and downed logs continue to smolder and burn. This is normal and will decrease over time. If you see brush and or trees fully engulfed by active flame within the burned area, please don’t hesitate to call the NE Interagency Dispatch Center at 509-685-6900.
FISHING — Starting Monday, Aug. 18, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.
With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).
Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.
All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days per week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.
Ron Warren, WDFW fisheries policy lead, said the previous daily limit of one chinook off Westport was designed to ensure the fishery would remain open the entire season.
“We’ve kept a close eye on the pace of catch in the area,” Warren said. “With sufficient quota remaining, we want to maximize the recreational fishing opportunity through the rest of the season.”
Ocean salmon fisheries are scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2 and through Sept. 21 in marine areas 3 and 4. However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.
Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website.
Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and catch guidelines, is available in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.
FISHING — As this year's record run of Columbia River sockeye pushes upstream, a record number of the salmon is headed into Lake Wenachee, where savvy anglers are finding some good fishing.
This blog post by Andy Walgamott offers some creative tips to catching the sometimes finicky sockeyes at this sweet lake near Leavenworth.
FISHING — The heat and smoke of wildfires is forcing some anglers to temporarily chill their enthusiasm for catching a share of the record run of sockeye heading into the upper Columbia.
And anglers could be blocked from Saturday's opening of the Lake Wenatchee sockeye season by firefighting efforts that have closed the state park boat access.
FISHING — All roads are currently closed to Lake Wenatchee, where a popular sockeye salmon fishery is set to open Saturday (July 19).
- Fires also are restricting access to the Pateros-Brewster area, a prime upper Columbia River sockeye fishery destination.
With several wildfires burning in the area, state officials have closed U.S. Highway 2 east of Stevens Pass as well as Old State Route 209 ("Chumstick Road") between Leavenworth and the lake.
Washington State Parks has also closed entry to Lake Wenatchee State Park, the site of the primary boat launch on the lake.
"The sockeye fishery will open as scheduled, but anglers may have to wait for a few days to get to it," said Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We strongly advise they check reports on fire and road conditions before they head out."
Sources of that information include:
- Fire Status: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3937/
- Road Closures: http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/default.aspx
- Lake Wenatchee State Park: www.parks.wa.gov/AlertCenter.aspx?AID=167
Information on the upcoming sockeye fishery is available on WDFW's website.
FISHING — The record run of sockeye up the Columbia River has made way for a salmon season on Lake Wenatchee starting Saturday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced.
However, fires may block road access for the opener.
Action: Lake Wenatchee opens for sockeye salmon fishing.
Effective date: July 19, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).
Species affected: Sockeye salmon
Daily limit: The daily limit per angler is 6 sockeye, 12 inches in length or greater.
Location: Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.)
Reason for action: Based on current sockeye passage at both Tumwater Dam and mainstem Columbia River Dams, at least 65,000 total sockeye are projected to be destined for Lake Wenatchee. This provides an estimated 42,000 sockeye to be available for harvest above the natural spawning escapement goal of 23,000 fish.
Other information: Selective gear rules (up to three single barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, knotless nets required) in effect. Anglers may fish with 2 poles as long as they possess a valid two-pole endorsement. A night closure will be in effect. Legal angling hours are one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Bull trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon must be released unharmed without removing the fish from the water.
NOTE: The Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery may be closed on short notice depending on participation and catch rates. Anglers are advised to check daily the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_freshwater.j
Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the Columbia River fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.
FISHING — With a record run charging upstream, the catch limit for sockeye is being increased to six a day in the Columbia River upstream from the Tri-Cities.
On Friday the limit was increased from four to six upstream from Priest Rapids to Wells Dam.
Starting Tuesday, the sockeye daily limit will be increased for the mainstem Columbia above the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.
On Wednesday, the six-fish limit will be allowed in the Wells Dam area, making the entire upper Columbia to Chief Joseph Dam — except the section that's closed to fishing and access because of Wanapum Dam repairs — open for six a day.
Here are the details just announced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Action: Anglers will be able to retain eight salmon and up to six adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam.
Effective dates and locations on Mainstem Columbia River:
- From Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam, July 15 – July 31, 2014.
- From Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam, July 11 – Aug. 31, 2014.
- From Wanapum Dam to Wells Dam, July 11 – Oct. 15, 2014.
- From Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster, July 16 – Aug. 31, 2014.
- From Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, July 11 – Oct. 15, 2014
Species affected: Sockeye salmon
Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be far in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches. Daily limit eight salmon, up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to six may be sockeye. Release coho and wild adult chinook. Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached.
Other Information: All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
FISHING — A rocketing spike of sockeye salmon up the Columbia River set run records this week and prompted the Washington Department of Fish Wildlife to increase the daily limit of sockeye to SIX in the river upstream from Priest Rapids Dam (details below).
That big pulse of fish at Bonneville is on its way upstream to the popular upper Columbia fisheries — where anglers already are socking it to the sockeyes — from the Hanford Reach almost to Brewster.
Last week, fish managers raised their expectations from a run of around 340,000 to 425,000, calling the run the second largest since records have been kept.
This week, the joint federal-state-tribal Technical Advisory Council increased the forecast to a total of 526,367 sockeye over Bonneville — a jump of 10,694 fish from the record run in 2012.
And some are suggesting the number could go to more than 600,000 — that's in the realm of colossal.
Fish counters tallied more than 34,000 sockeye up the Bonneville Dam fish ladders on on July 4 and again on July 5. The numbers dropped significantly after that and will taper from there, fish managers said.
Anglers are getting to harvest the bounty. Today WDFW announced a sockeye fishing season starting immediately at Lake Osoyoos as well as an increased daily bag limit as follows:
Action: Anglers will be able to retain eight salmon, including up to six adult sockeye salmon, in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam.
Effective dates and locations: Mainstem Columbia River:
- From Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam, July 11-Aug. 31, 2014.
- From Wanapum Dam to Wells Dam, July 11-Oct. 15, 2014.
- From Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster, July 16-Aug. 31, 2014.
- From Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, July 11-Oct 15, 2014.
Species affected: Sockeye salmon.
Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be far in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches. Daily limit eight salmon, up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to six may be sockeye. Release coho and wild adult chinook. Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached.
Other information: All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
FISHING — "Even as a retired cop, Lonn Sweeney didn't expect to save anyone's life June 20 when he piloted his 24-foot Duckworth ocean hardtop, Teresa D, over the Columbia River bar, but he was certainly prepared for it," writes Oregon outdoor scribe Bill Monroe in a story of tragedy and lessons learned.
- The story is a must-read for anyone planning to pilot a a fishing boat over the infamous rough water caused by the surge of the Columbia River meeting the tides of the Pacific Ocean.
"And at least some of the five survivors from a capsizing on the world's trademark-for-treachery ocean crossing owe their lives to his caution – a lesson learned on the cusp of a predicted stellar coastwide ocean salmon season and record run past Buoy 10," Monroe reported.
Lt. Scott McGrew, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard station at Cape Disappointment, said the accident is under investigation. He credited Sweeney and his crew with saving lives before his 47-footers could get to the scene.
FISHING — Area fishermen can get a $25 bonus if they catch a fish with a radio telemetry tag in the Snake, Columbia or Willamette Rivers.
Just return the tag to University of Idaho researchers and the check's in the mail.
The tagged fish are part of an ongoing effort to boost stocks of steelhead trout, chinook salmon and Pacific lamprey. The small tags monitor fish behavior and distribution.
The tags range in size from about three inches to smaller than a dime and can be detected by the presence of a wire from the fish's mouth or body. All but the smallest bear a UI label to assist in identification.
"The best way for anglers to return transmitters for cash reward is through our website" said Chris Caudill, leader of the project. "There is a pdf form to fill out and then return to UI. The return of transmitters to UI by anglers, hatcheries, agency personnel and others provides critical data on the final fate and location of the radio-tagged fish."
UI researchers say the return of the transmitters is essential to supporting the goals of the project, which include:
- Evaluating the effectiveness of fish ladders designed and built specifically for Pacific lamprey, an important native fish species. These lamprey passage systems were designed in collaboration with NOAA-Fisheries, the US Army Corps of Engineers and UI College of Natural Resources graduate students. They were installed at Bonneville and John Day dams on the Columbia River. This study aims to increase successful lamprey migrations through passageways at hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. If successful, dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers may install fish ladders in the new design, which may increase Pacific lamprey that are important to the heritage and culture of the region's indigenous Indian tribes.
- Radio-tagging and monitoring adult salmon and steelhead at lower Columbia and Snake River dams. Data gathered through radio telemetry will help scientists determine how modification to dams affects passage and fates of the adult fish throughout the Federal Columbia River Power System.
- Radio-tagging and monitoring Chinook salmon and steelhead to determine migration patterns and pre-spawn mortality rates in the Willamette River Valley and its numerous tributaries with dams. Currently, many adult salmon reach spawning grounds, but die prior to reproducing for unknown reasons, potentially limiting productivity. The salmon and steelhead studies will contribute to regional salmon recovery efforts currently underway by regional, federal, state and tribal agencies.
This project is supported by a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and additional participants include: the UI Echohydraulics Research Laboratory in Boise, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon State University's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
FISHING — Today is the first day of fishing for the good run of chinook and the forecast giant run of sockeye salmon headed to the upper reaches of the Columbia River.
Chinook, unmolested by fishing lures, have been swimming over Priest Rapids Dam at a rate of 2,000 a day. Sockeye are getting their legs.
Where are you?
For history lovers, like me, there is something deeply important about following the footsteps of the men and women who came before us. That’s often what compels us to travel, to put ourselves in the place where important things—significant events that shaped the world we live in now—happened.
Here in the Northwest we are especially fortunate. With vast undeveloped stretches of plains and prairies, dense forests and ranges of jagged mountains, much of the landscape is no different that it was when the first explorers moved into the area. Here, you can step into a landscape that, in places, has changed very little since the first people, and later the first explorers, arrived.
That’s why I boarded Un-Cruise Adventures S. S. Legacy in Portland for a small-ship heritage voyage up the Columbia and Snake rivers. This was a bucket-list trip for me. I’ve driven along the Columbia, taken the train through the gorge, flown over it by plane and helicopter. But I’d never explored the area the way it was originally done: by river.
It’s hard to imagine the Columbia River, although known and deeply important to Native Americans, was not discovered until the 1700s. and it was almost another century before a fur trader by the name of Robert Gray first sailed into it and named the fierce river for his ship—the Columbia Rediviva. And that it was still a mystery when Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery in 1804.
From the moment we boarded the replica coastal cruiser, before we even cruised out of Portland and the greenness of the Pacific Northwest, we were steeped in history. We were met by costumed guides and interpreters and they continued to bring to life the stories of the men and women who settled the area as we moved upriver.
At the first dam, the Bonneville Dam (there would be seven more locks and dams on the journey) we are still surrounded by forest and miles of fertile land rising up to meet mountains that look like giant thorns piercing the low clouds. We leave the ship to tour the dam and fish ladders.
At The Dalles, the end of the Oregon Trail, things began to change. We entered the high desert that covers so much of central and south-central Oregon and Washington. Green gives way to gold.
My husband and I spent hours on the top deck, taking it all in, watching freight trains wind along tracks beside the swift, opaque green water of the river, long ribbons of cargo shuttling goods between ports and cities. The sun was high and hot in an endless blue sky laced with contrails and dotted with fat white clouds.
Each day we saw more and learned more. We read books from the ship’s library and listened as our guides put human faces on the stories of settling of the West, the area’s importance in wars and commerce.
We ate well, gathering for gourmet meals, and socialized well, gathering again for cocktails. We made friends and shared stories with the other passengers, many of whom have led fascinating lives.
We rode jet boats up the Snake River, deep in the gorge that still bears the evidence of the geological turbulence that created it.
We visited Walla Walla, the small city that was once considered the “Paris of the West” delving into the personal stories of the men and women who lived, loved and died there. We tasted the sweet onions that put Walla Walla on the map and the outstanding wines that have reinvented the area and put the wine world on notice.
We climbed the Astoria Column for a spectacular view and visited Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark rode out a stretch of bad weather so miserable it became part of the history of the area.
By the time we’d made the round trip back to Portland—back through the series of locks and dams—like Lewis and Clark, we’d made a journey of discovery.
We live in the Northwest but walking down the gangplank, heading back home, we knew much more about this beautiful part of the country than we did when we’d set out. We’d seen familiar territory with a new view, from the deck of the beautiful ship that carried us, and we’d followed the footsteps of the first people and the wagon trails of those who paved the roads and opened the doors to let us follow.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com
FISHING – Starting Friday (June 27), the lower Grande Ronde River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon for the first time in 40 years.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced that the river, from the Highway 129 Bridge upstream approximately 12 miles to the farthest upstream Oregon/Washington boundary line, will be open for spring chinook fishing through Monday (June 30).
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are testing the feasibility of a spring chinook fishery in the lower Grande Ronde River to increase the harvest of hatchery fish destined for the Lostine River in Oregon, said John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) eastern region fish program manager.
The Grande Ronde River fishery is co-managed by Washington and Oregon, where a similar chinook season will open concurrently.
“This brief, four-day fishery will give us some indication of angler participation and the catch rates we would see with a fishery in the lower river,” Whalen said.
The season was rushed into play a as reserachers monitoring PIT-tagged fish movements upstream said the targeted fish are getting there and now’s the time, Whalen said.
Some specific regulations include:
- Anglers will have a daily catch limit of seven hatchery chinook salmon (adipose fin-clipped), only two of which can be adult chinook. Anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery chinook salmon.
- Anglers must use single point barbless hooks no larger than 5/8 inch from point to shank.
- Night fishing is prohibited.
- Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit.
Whalen said fishery managers were able to provide the brief opportunity after in-season projections indicated good returns of spring chinook salmon to the upper Grande Ronde River.
“We’re specifically targeting the Lostine chinook stock, which data shows tends to migrate through the river a month later than other chinook populations,” Whalen said. “By allowing this opportunity now, we can fish for these late-arriving chinook while avoiding the majority of fish from other stocks.”
FISHING — A new four-day spring chinook section on a stretch of the Grande Ronde River is likely to be opened starting Friday.
The official announcement and details are likely to be released Wednesday morning.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife didn't get all the permits in order today… but stay tuned. This is a new deal for anglers!
FISHING — Fishing for chinook salmon in the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa rivers will be closed at the end of fishing hours on Sunday (June 29).
This closure marks the end of the spring chinook fishery in the Clearwater Drainage. Since the season opened on April 26, anglers harvested more than 3,700 adult Chinook and more than 1,000 jack Chinook in the Clearwater drainage during the 2014 spring season.
- Little Salmon River will remain open for chinook salmon fishing at least through Friday (June 27). While many anglers are catching chinook on the Little Salmon, fishery managers believe the share set aside for sport anglers has not been completely harvested yet. Those managers will meet later this week to look at the most up to date numbers before deciding if the fishery can continue beyond Friday June 27.
WATERSPORTS — The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1287.70 feet above sea level today and is expected to remain in the range of 1286 - 1288 for the next week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports. Spill may occur intermittently. Full pool behind Grand Coulee Dam is 1290 feet.
- Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.
- Check out this post with a link to a NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.
UPDATED 1:55 p.m. with announcement of Sunday closings by Idaho fish and Game:
FISHING — Idaho’s spring chinook salmon fisheries on the lower Salmon River and the Clearwater River basins are almost history for 2014.
Idaho Fish and Game has just issued this announcement:
As harvest quotas of adult Chinook salmon will soon be achieved throughout the Clearwater drainage, harvest of adult Chinook in the entire Clearwater (including the Middle Fork, South Fork and Lochsa) will end on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:15 Pacific Daylight Time.
Harvest of all Chinook salmon; including jacks, will be off-limits in the main stem Clearwater and the North Fork Clearwater after Sunday June 22. Closing these sections to all salmon fishing will eliminate mortalities among adult salmon hooked and released by anglers fishing for jack salmon.
Harvest of jack salmon (those under 24 inches) will continue to be allowed on the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa River until further notice. Anglers may harvest up to 4 adipose-clipped Chinook salmon under 24 inches per day on those rivers. Any salmon 24 inches or longer must be immediately released. Anglers harvesting four jacks in a day or having 12 jacks in possession must discontinue fishing.
On the Salmon River:
"Fishing for both adult and jack spring chinook will close on two sections of the lower Salmon River at 9:15 p.m. Thursday," reports Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune. "The river will close to salmon fishing between Rice Creek and Time Zone bridges and from the mouth of Short’s Creek to the boat ramp at Vinegar Creek."
Fisheries managers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are closing the two stretches to make sure anglers don’t catch too many salmon destined for the upper Salmon River.
The river will remain open to chinook fishing between Time Zone Bridge and the mouth of Short’s Creek, often referred to as the Park Hole. The Little Salmon River will also remain open.
But fishing on those two stretches could close in the next few weeks. Last week, anglers caught nearly 1,400 adult chinook from the lower Salmon River and more than 1,500 from the Little Salmon River. So far this year, anglers have caught about 4,300 adult chinook from the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, leaving about 2,500 on the state’s share of the Rapid River run, which is fewer than were caught last week.
"If harvest last week is any indication of what is going to happen this week, that should put us pretty close to our harvest share," said Don Whitney, a fisheries biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston.
Fish managers decided to close the Clearwater stretches after analyzing catch data. Anglers caught 419 adult chinook from the South Fork of the Clearwater, Middle Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa rivers last week.
FISHING — At the end of fishing hours on Thursday June 12, the fishing harvest season will close for adult Chinook Salmon (24 inches or longer) on the Clearwater River between the Orofino Bridge and the South Fork Clearwater.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department says the catch quota for the stretch has been met.
Starting on Friday, June 13, only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches) will be allowed on the Clearwater River downstream from the South Fork Clearwater River. Anglers may keep up to four adipose clipped jacks per day. Any salmon 24 inches or longer must be immediately released in this river section.
FISHING — Starting Friday (June 6), the Wenatchee River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon for the first time in nearly two decades, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced.
With almost 10,000 hatchery chinook expected to return to the river this year, WDFW is opening two sections of the river:
- From the Washington State Parks foot bridge at Confluence Park (just upstream from the confluence with the Columbia River) to 400 feet below Dryden Dam.
- From the confluence with Peshastin Creek to the downstream side of the confluence with the Icicle River and from that point to a marker on the opposite shore.
The fishery will be open seven days a week in both areas until further notice.
Anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery spring chinook measuring at least 12 inches long and marked with a clipped adipose fin. Under statewide regulations, anglers may retain only one daily limit of salmon, regardless of how many waters they fish.
All wild chinook must immediately be released back into the water unharmed.
Jeff Korth, regional WDFW fishery manager, said this year’s fishery was made possible under a new permit issued by NOAA-Fisheries that allows the department to conduct mark-selective fisheries to reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.
“We are pleased that we’re able to provide this fishery, which will reduce excess hatchery fish while increasing fishing opportunities in the area,” Korth said. “We’ve done this successfully in other watersheds and now we’re bringing it to the Wenatchee River.”
Korth noted that WDFW will closely monitor the fishery and enforce fishing rules to ensure protection of wild chinook, bull trout and any steelhead that may be incidentally caught and released.
In addition to the mark-selective rules in effect for the fishery, anglers are required to:
- Retain any legal hatchery spring chinook they catch until they reach their daily limit, then stop fishing for spring chinook.
- Release any spring chinook with one or more round holes punched in the tail fin. These fish are vital to ongoing studies in the upper Wenatchee River Basin.
- Observe selective gear rules in effect on the Wenatchee River wherever chinook seasons are open. No gear restrictions are in effect on the Icicle River, and anglers may use bait on both rivers.
- Heed the prohibition of internal combustion motorized vessels and observe night closures on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.
To participate in this fishery, anglers must possess a valid 2014-15 fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement.
Because the fishery is open until further notice, anglers should check WDFW’s Fishing Rule Change website.
FISHING — "Fishing was exceptional in the Clearwater River drainage last week with catch rates less than 10 hrs/fish in many places and averaging 14 hrs/fish for the entire basin," says Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.
"Based on conversations with our creel personnel, it looks like the fishing is only improving this week," he said in an email a few minutes ago.
"We plan to check our harvest numbers Thursday (6/5/14) to evaluate if we need to make any closures. If harvest continues to remain high, adult harvest closures could occur in river Section 2 (main Clearwater from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge) and Section 3 (North Fork) as soon as the end of fishing on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or possibly later."
A notice will be released on Thursday, he said.
"The other river reaches will remain open to adult harvest through the weekend and we will evaluate the data on Monday to determine how to proceed."
FISHING — Two sections of the Snake River (below Ice Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam) reopened to fishing for spring chinook on Sunday, June 1, while two other sections of the river (below Little Goose Dam and near Clarkston) will reopen Thursday, June 5.
The sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam are open Sunday through Tuesday each week. The river below Little Goose Dam and in the Clarkston area will be open Thursday through Saturday each week.
All four sections will be open on their weekly schedule until further notice.
Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said fishery managers were able to reopen the fishery after transferring a portion of the upriver spring chinook allocation to the Snake River from the ongoing fishery in the lower Columbia River.
“With more than 600 fish now available for the Snake River fishery, we may be able to sustain fishing for the next several weeks,” said Mendel.
- Monitor changes posted on the agency's emergency fishing rules webpage.
Read on for details: