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Hanford Reach salmon effort thins, catch stays high

FISHING — Chinook salmon anglers are finding a little more elbow room on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River and anglers numbers declinced slightly last week, but the catch rates on the 2013 record run remain high.

Here's the report just received from Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife area fisheries biologist:

The number of boats on the water in the Hanford Reach dropped a bit this past week compared to the two weeks prior.  There were an estimated 5,123 angler trips for the week.  Anglers averaged 2.2 Chinook per boat and 20 hours for each Chinook caught from the bank.

Staff interviewed anglers from 572 boats (1,309 boat anglers) and 227 bank anglers fishing for Chinook reporting a harvest of 1,221 adult Chinook and 102 jacks.  Harvest for the week was estimated at 4,357 adult Chinook and 357 Chinook jacks. 

For the season, 19,313 adult Chinook and 2,365 jacks have been harvested.  The adult harvest breaks the previous record of 13,102 adults harvested set last year.  There have been 33,081 angler trips for the fishery through October 13. The in-season run update for natural origin adult Hanford Reach fall Chinook returning to the Hanford Reach is 136,902 (updated Oct 7).

Yakima River fishing for chinooks hasn't been bad, either.  Says Hoffarth:

WDFW staff interviewed 185 anglers between October 7th and 13th.  Anglers reported harvesting 86 adult Chinook, 14 jacks, and 7 coho.  An estimated 662 adult fall Chinook, 148 jacks, and 76 coho were harvested this past week from 1,657 angler trips.  Anglers averaged 1 salmon for every 4.4 hours fished.

For the season, 5,942 anglers trips have been taken and 995 adult Chinook, 313 chinook jacks, and 83 coho have been harvested.

Upper Columbia and tribs open Wednesday for steelhead

FISHING — Starting Wednesday (Oct. 16), fishing will open for hatchery steelhead on the mainstem upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Methow and Okanogan rivers until further notice.

In addition, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for WDFW, said approximately 14,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year - enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries.

Korth noted, however, that fishing will be more tightly regulated than last year because fewer hatchery steelhead are projected to return this year and wild steelhead are expected to make up a higher proportion of the run.

“Careful management is required to protect naturally spawning steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Korth said. “While these fisheries traditionally remain open through the winter, we may have to close fishing early due to the higher number of encounters with wild steelhead expected this year.”

Korth said anglers should check WDFW's website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ) throughout the season for possible changes in the fishing regulations.
 
On all rivers, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead, marked with clipped adipose fins and measuring at least 20 inches in length. Anglers are required to immediately release any steelhead with an intact adipose fin without removing the fish from the water. All steelhead fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin must also be released.

Anglers fishing tributaries to the upper Columbia River are also required to retain any legal-size hatchery steelhead they catch until the daily limit of two fish is reached. Once they have retained two fish, anglers must stop fishing for steelhead.

Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open, although bait may be used on the mainstem Columbia River. All anglers are required to follow selective gear rules and restrictions described in WDFW's Sport Fishing Rules, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Anglers should also be aware that motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee or Icicle rivers under Chelan County ordinances.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Oct. 16 until further notice include:

  • Mainstem Columbia River: Open from Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except bait is allowed.
  • Wenatchee River: Open from the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. Motorized vessels are not allowed.
  • Methow River: Open from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing to the first Highway 153 Bridge. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
  • Okanogan River: Open from the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 include:

  • Similkameen River: Open from the mouth to 400 below Enloe Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

Three areas of the Columbia River - Vernita, Priest Rapids and Wanapum - will not open for steelhead fishing this fall to preserve fishing opportunities on upper-river tributaries, Korth said.

All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. 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.  

Update on fall chinook salmon record run

FISHING — Although steelhead fishing has opened in the Ringold area of the Columbia River's Hanford Reach, most angling pressure has been focused on the record run of chinook salmon packing into the area.

Anglers last week AVERAGED 2.5 chinooks per boat as they set sportfishing records for chinook caught in the free-flowing stretch between the Tri Cities and Priest Rapids Dam.  Awesome.

The chinooks also are setting records on the Snake River.

The total count at Bonneville Dam this year through Monday is 904,855 adult fall chinook, already far beyond the previous seasonal record count of 610,244 set in 2003. Bonneville is the first hydro project the fish encounter on their way upstream to the mid-Columbia and the Snake River. 
 
The count as of Monday at Lower Granite on the Snake River was 52,277, well past the previous record of 41,815 set in 2010. Fish continue to move over Lower Granite at the rate of 400-500 a day.
 
The Snake River fish pass over four Columbia River dams before turning into the Snake. Lower Granite is the last of four passable dams on the lower Snake before the fish head into the Lewiston-Clarkston area, the Clearwater and up the Snake farther to the Salmon River.
 
The counts at the lower Snake River’s Lower Granite Dam include wild Snake River fall chinook that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

Hanford Reach anglers catch record number of fall chinook

SALMON FISHING — The 2013 record run of chinook salmon that's stampeding up the Columbia River is making history, and so are anglers.

Sport fishermen caught a record number of chinook in the lower Columbia when the run was peaking there.

Now Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife creel surveys have confirmed that anglers alrealdy have set a record for the catch in the Hanford Reach, where they averaged a whopping 2.5 kings per boat last week.

And the season doesn't close until Oct. 22 in that stretch of river.

Here's the report just received from Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist in the Tri Cities.

Angler effort remained strong this past week with an estimated 7,714 angler trips for the week.  Anglers averaged 2.5 Chinook per boat.

Staff interviewed anglers from 477 boats (1,191 boat anglers) and 382 bank anglers fishing for Chinook reporting a harvest of 1,099 adult Chinook and 107 jacks.  Harvest for the week was estimated at 6,531 adult Chinook and 651 Chinook jacks. 

For the season, 14,967 adult Chinook and 2,014 jacks have been harvested.  The adult harvest breaks the previous record of 13,102 adults harvested set last year.  There have been 27,958 angler trips for the fishery through October 6.

The in-season run update for natural origin adult Hanford Reach fall Chinook returning to the Hanford Reach is 181,137 (updated Oct 1).

Lake Roosevelt boat ramps remain closed

BOATING — The trout are getting break at Lake Roosevelt as the public boat launches continue to be closed by the National Park Service.

“We’ve been given direction for the duration of the shutdown that all National Park Service facilities are closed for visitor recreation activities,” said Dan Foster, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area superintendent in Grand Coulee.

He said today that the boat launch areas will continue to be barricaded until Congress resolves the federal government shutdown.

“I don’t blame people for wanting to go boating on the lake. I know the fishing has been good and this weekend especially is supposed to be really nice.

“But the closures are part of the direction we’ve been given, and as superintendent, I have no latitude for changes.”

Fed shutdown delays fish counts at dams

FISHING — Online posting of fish counts over dams on the Columbia and Snake river is being delayed for some dams because of the federal shutdown.

The counts are keenly watched by anglers this time of year as they monitor salmon and steelhead movements during the upstream migrations.

The Fish Passage Center has been posting the counts as soon as it gets them through channels dealing with the shut-down U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Columbia River treaty meeting Wednesday in Spokane

RIVERS — Despite the U.S. government shutdown, Bonneville Power and the Army Corps of Engineers will hold public hearings on Columbia River Treaty review in Spokane on Wednesday (Oct. 2) at the downtown Spokane Public Library, 906 W. Main St.

The announcement was posted on the U.S. Columbia River Treaty Review website.

The agencies will be taking comments on the draft recommendations to the Department of State regarding what a modernized Treaty will look like, said Rachael Paschal Osborn, Spokane-based attorney with the Center for Environmental Law & Policy.

Osborn suggests parties interested in how the treaty may be used to restore the Columbia River should consider providing the following messages at the meetings, or via www.bpa.gov/comment (or call 800-622-4519):

(1) Adding ecosystem function and restoration as a co-equal purpose of the treaty is good.  Thank the US Entity and the agencies and tribes who have worked hard to recommend this new purpose for the Treaty.

(2) Adding fish passage at Columbia system dams is good.  Salmon must be, and can be, restored to their ancestral grounds. Tribes and supporters are proposing a fish ladder over Grand Coulee Dam.

(3) Modernize flood control.  Fewer levees, more flood plain connections, practical solutions such as not building in the flood plain can create flexibility for upstream water storage.

(4) Recognize B.C.'s contribution to power generation, safety and ecological well-being in the U.S.  Let's negotiate in good faith.

Osborn will post updates on the Columbia River on her Naiad's blog.

Salmon run is big, but so are upper Columbia rainbows

FLY FISHING — Everett Coulter of Spokane emailed to remind me that the record run of chinook salmon stampeding upstream from the ocean isn't the only fishery worth exploring in the upper Columbia River.

The photo above shows a feisty 23-inch rainbow, “one of four really nice rainbows we caught on the Columbia at Castelgar,” he said.  “We landed two on dry flies and two on nymphs.  The fishery on the Columbia is really quite good.”

The other photo (click “continue reading”) shows Hugh Evans (back) of Spokane with more proof that Coulter isn't blowing steam.

The anglers fished out of a drift boat with Columbia-Elk river fly fishing guide John Muir.

There you go. 

Lake Roosevelt boat launches gated during government shutdown

UPDATED 1:05 p.m.

BOATING — The hot fishing for rainbow trout that's been reported in recent weeks at Lake Roosevelt might cool off for lack of anglers.

The federal officials have announced that all  National Park Service facilities on the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area are being closed during the federal government shutdown

This includes campgrounds, marinas, boat launches and concessions operations, the supervisor's office said today.

  • Even the national park web pages are down!

Park Service officials just confirmed that they will be putting up barricades at the entrances of campgrounds and boat launches.

There are no state-managed access sites on the 125-mile long reservoir.

Read on for more details in a press release issued by the Lake Roosevelt NRA at 1 p.m. today:

Snake River hot for pikeminnow bounty anglers; season closes today

FISHING — The area of the Snake River upstream from Lower Granite Dam has been the hottest September spot in the Columbia River system for bounty angers targeting northern pikeminnows for cash rewards.

The 2013 season for the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program, funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, ends today.

Angers who report to any of 21 check stations along the Snake and Columbia rivers have been earning $4-$8 per fish in the program to suppress predators that prey on young endangered salmon. Bonuses of up to $500 can be collected from fish that are tagged as incentive to attract more anglers.

In the most recent week of reports, Sept. 16-22, the Greenbelt's 54 anglers fishing out of the Clarkston area caught 1,051 pikeminnows. The next closest total was reported by the Boyer Park check station, with 74 anglers catching 890 fish. 

Overall for the season that started in May, Boyer Park's 1,913 registered anglers have turned in 24,145 pikeminnows, second only to The Dalles Boat Basin, where 3,368 anglers have turned in 26,265 fish.

The harvest total from Sept. 16-22 — the latest data available — was 6,363 pikeminnows (compared with 6,327 the week before) from 517 anglers (579). The catch average was 12.3 fish per angler up from 10.9 the previous week with three tags recovered (two).

One tagged fish was caught for every 2,121 pikeminnow caught (one for every 3,163 the week before).

The harvest season total is 155,245 pikeminnow from 19,622 anglers for a catch average of 7.9 fish per angler with 158 tags recovered.

The best catch rates this past week occurred at PortCo (Marine Park) with 29.0 fish per rod; Washougal with 28.5; Ridgefield with 23.7; Gleason with 20.4; and Greenbelt with 19.5.

Studis have shown that northern pikeminnow, a large member of the minnow family, eat millions of young salmon and steelhead, and other fish like bass, walleye and shad in the Columbia and Snake rivers each year.

The more northern pikeminnow an angler catches, the more the fish are worth. The first 100 are worth $4 each; the next 300 are worth $5 each, and after 400 fish are caught and turned in, they are worth $8 each. 

Only fish caught from the Columbia mouth to Priest Rapids Dam, and from the Snake mouth to Hells Canyon Dam are eligible.

Info: (800) 858-9015.

Landers verifies Columbia River’s record run of chinook salmon

FISHING — Four people, including me, reeled 13 chinook salmon to the boat today in the Hanford Reach and got eight of them INTO the boat.

That's a good indication that the record run of chinook salmon heading up the Columbia and Snake Rivers is the real deal.

We were fishing with Toby Wyatt and Jim Havener of Reel Time Fishing on Wyatt's 27-foot boat, which he built with his dad in Clarkston.

Surprise! Disagreement on new plan for dams, salmon

USFWS releases new plan for NW dams to save salmon

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service is again opposing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's plan to increase releases of water from eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers to help salmon make the trek to the Pacific Ocean because the agency disagrees with the goal of the plan and the basic science on which it is premised.
—Idaho Statesman

Meeting set on changes to Lake Roosevelt boat launches

BOATING — Proposed changes at the Kettle Falls and Fort Spokane boat launches are detailed in the 2013 Boat Launch Development Concept Plan released for public by the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

The plan evaluates the effects of expanding and reconfiguring the two existing boat launches and the associated facilities within recreation area.

National Park Service staff will hold an open house to discuss this plan, 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Kettle Falls Visitors Center, 425 W. Third Ave.  Written comments will also be accepted at this meeting.

Comments on the plan are due by Sept. 30.

Spring canyon busy with triathlon on Sept. 21

FISHING — Lake Roosevelt anglers should note a potential conflict for fishing out of Spring Canyon Campground area on Sept. 21, the day of the 10th annual Grand Columbian Triathlon Super Tri.

Triathletes and supporters will be camping at the site on Friday.

Swim events start at 6:45 a.m. followed by running and cycling portions of the event.

Striped bass netted near The Dalles

FISHING — A Native American treaty gillnetter caught a striped bass above The Dalles Dam on Sept. 6, the farthest up the Columbia River the species has been documented.

A striper was photographed moving uptream at Bonneville Dam in mid-June.  Perhaps it's the same one?

Striped bass are extremely rare in Washington waters, but occasionally turn up in the Columbia around this time of year, notes Northwest Sportsman magazine. They were introduced to San Francisco Bay waters in the late 1800s and migrated up to Coos Bay and environs, but in recent years, with changing salinity, haven’t fared as well as they once did.

Chinook run stalls at Lower Granite

FISHING — An unusually lengthy warm season in the interior Columbia Basin, combined with low water volumes, has apparently given, first sockeye salmon and then fall chinook salmon, reason to pause before they jump an eighth and final hydro hurdle — the lower Snake River’s Lower Granite Dam— on their spawning journey.

Read a detailed update on the sistuation from the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

In a nutshell, if you don't hold the dam at fault, it's the weather's fault.

Steelhead counts poised to boom at Lower Granite Dam

FISHING —  The bulk of this year's lower than average steelhead run has climbed over Bonneville Dam, the first dam they reach on the Columbia River, and all eyes are upstream.

As you can see from the charts, the fish are making their way upstream and good things are about to happen in the Lewiston-Clarkston area.

If Clearwater-Snake water temperatures cool a bit  more, the  number of steelhead climbing over Lower Granite should spike any day. Lower Granite is the last dam on the Snake before the fish reach Idaho waters. 

Are you ready? 

Fall chinook stampeding up Columbia system

SALMON FISHING — The huge run of fall chinook forecast for the Columbia and Snake rivers got a booming start last week.

In a three-day stretch last week, nearly 85,000 fall chinook moved up over Bonneville, with almost 34,000 of those coming up river on Friday tapering to a rush of 27,000 on Monday.

Steelhead and coho also are in the mix, boosting the counts of quality fishing potential even higher.

Fishing writer Rob Phillips says anglers already have been nailing these fish at the mouth of the Klickitat and the mouth of the Deschutes rivers.

The bulk of the fishery is headed for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, but Phillips details other hot spots up through the Tri-Cities in the upper Columbia in his Yakima Herald—Republic column.

Buoy 10 king salmon fishing season too hot to last?

UPDATE at 5 p.m.:  Hot Buoy 10 fishery gets reprieve.

SALMON FISHING — With anglers catching up to 1,600 chinook salmon a day at Buoy 10, the fishery at the mouth of the Columbia is nearing it's quota for kings earlier than normal.

Al Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian reports the season could be closed as early as Thursday.

But fish managers are meeting this afternoon to see if they can work out a plan to extend the fishery through the weekend.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishing to close

FISHING — Sockeye salmon fishing at Lake Wenatchee will close Sunday after sunset, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced.   Here are the details:

Closure goes into effect:  Aug. 18, 2013, one hour after official sunset.

Reason for action: Officials estimate that sockeye available for harvest (those in excess of the natural spawning escapement goal of 23,000 fish) will have been caught and removed from the lake by the end of Sunday.

Salmon group alarmed by high water temps in Snake, Columbia

FISHING — Warming water temperatures in the Snake and Columbia rivers is catching the attention of fish scientists, especially those who support the removal of Snake River dams for the benefit of wild salmon and steelhead.

Following is the third memo in a series calling attention to the warming waters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and the impacts of those high water temperatures on migrating salmon and steelhead provided by Joseph Bogaard, deputy director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, 206-286-4455 x103; joseph@wildsalmon.org

Summer 2013 - Hot Water Alert No. 3

Columbia and Snake River temperatures over 70 degrees for third straight week

Memo to Northwest writers, reporters, editorialists, and columnists – August 7, 2013

For the week July 29 through August 4, water temperatures were 70 degrees or higher 45 times at Columbia and Snake River federal dams passable to salmon – up from 35 readings the previous week. At three dams – The Dalles and John Day on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor on the Snake – temperatures were above 70 degrees all seven days both above and below the dams. At Ice Harbor Dam, temperatures have now been above 70 degrees for 17 consecutive days; at The Dalles and John Day, for 11 consecutive days.

The Dalles Dam(first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)         

July 29

70.1 F     70.2 F

July 30

70.7 F 70.7 F

July 31

70.8 F 70.9 F

Aug 1   70.6 F

70.8 F

Aug 2 70.1 F

70.3 F

Aug 3 70.2 F

70.2 F

Aug 4 71.1 F

71.1 F

John Day Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)

July 29 70.9 F

70.9 F

July 30 70.9 F

70.9 F

July 31 71 F     

70.9 F

Aug 1 70.8 F

70.8 F

Aug 2 70.6 F

70.6 F

Aug 3 70.9 F

70.9 F

Aug 4 71.5 F

71.5 F

Ice Harbor Dam  (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)

July 29 71 F

71.1 F

July 30 70.8 F

71.5 F

July 31 70.8 F

71.2 F

Aug 1 70.6 F

70.9 F

Aug 2 70.4 F

70.2 F

Aug 3 71 F

71 F

Aug 4 70.2 F

70.6 F

Bonneville Dam (first reading = forebay/above dam; second reading = tailrace/below dam)

Aug 1 70 F

Aug 4 70.3 F

70.3 F

The Idaho Statesman reported August 3 that hundreds of endangered sockeye and chinook salmon were trapped in July by warm water at the base of the Lower Granite Dam fish ladder on the lower Snake. Turbine adjustments and auxiliary pumps finally got the fish moving up the ladder, but the situation could be a harbinger for days and years ahead.

See Columbia-Snake temperatures.

New Keller ferry interrupts boating, traffic at Lake Roosevelt

BOATING –Lake Roosevelt’s public boat launch at Crescent Bay will be closed from 5 p.m. Tuesday (July 9) through Wednesday for the debut of Washington’s newest ferry, which will transport State Route 21 traffic across the Columbia River at Keller Ferry.

Motorists must use a 60-mile detour on alternate routes from today (July 8) through Aug. 13 as ferry service on the Keller route will be temporarily suspended to upgrade the terminals and fit them to the new $9.6 million vessel called the Sanpoil. 

Boaters in the area will be able to use the launch ramp at Spring Canyon, three miles east of Grand Coulee off State Route 174, during this closure.

The Washington Department of Transportation will launch the Sanpoil, built to replace the Martha S, a six-car ferry that’s covered the mile-long route across the Columbia River north of Wilbur for 64 years. The Marha S made it's last run on Sunday.

The Sanpoil will carry 20 cars while being more efficient, officials say.

The ferry had a crew of 2 have been an important link connect ing Lincoln and Ferry counties on Highway 21..

There will be no Keller Ferry for five weeks while ramps are improved for a new ferry to be dedicated Aug. 14. 

2013 Summer Season Services

at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

Daisy — marina and roadside fuel pumps, store providing snacks, beverages and ice, (509) 738-2995.

Kettle Falls Marina — houseboat rental, fuel, groceries and moorage, (509) 738-6121.

Keller Ferry and Seven Bays — fuel, groceries and seasonal moorage, with houseboat rentals available out of Seven Bays, (509) 725-7229. 

Fuel at all of the above locations is ethanol-free.

Lake Roosevelt levels heading toward full pool

RIVERS — While Dworshak Reservoir levels are being lowered for the sake of downstream salmon, Lake Roosevelt levels are increasing this week along the Columbia River behind Grand Coulee Dam.

The level of Lake Roosevelt was at elevation 1287 feet today and lake levels are expected to continue slowly rising over the next week and reach the full pool elevation of 1290 by July 13.

After reaching 1290, the Bureau of Reclamation predicts the lake level will remain in the 1288-1290 range for the week of July 14

High levels at Lake Roosevelt reduce the beach area available for camping and picnicking. Levels drop in August for hydropower needs and providing flows for Columbia River salmon. This exposes more beaches making August prime time for campers on the 145-mile-long lake.

Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Sockeye run downsized, but good fishing expected

FISHING — This year's sockeye run to the upper Columbia River is about a third the size of the 2012 run, but don't let that discourage you.

Last year's return of more than 500,000 sockeye was a record to behold.

This year's estimate of about 155,000 still offers plenty of opportunity. (The run forecast was lowered from 180,000 on Monday)

The sockeye are coming over Bonneville Dam at the rate of 4,000-7,000 a day, totaling 121,750 so far.

  • 32,084 have moved over Priest Rapids Dam.
  • 19,947 over Wanapum Dam.
  • 12,947 over Rock Island Dam.
  • 7,699 over Rocky Reach Dam.
  • 3,380 over Wells Dam.

The catch and keep season on much of the river opened Monday with anothe stretch to open July 16.

See this story by Rob Phillips of Yakima for some good tips toward getting on top of this fishery, especially for anglers with boats.

In a forecast revision released on Monday, federal, state and tribal fish managers predict 60,000 summer kings will return to the mouth of the Columbia River this season.

Striped bass moving over Bonneville Dam? See photo

FISHING — Is a new fishery moving up into the Columbia?

Last week a commercial fishing crew caught a 52-pound stripped bass in the Columbia Gorge.

A few days ago, counters photographed what appears to be a striped bass (see bottom of photo) going through Bradford Island count station at Bonneville Dam.

Striped bass are extremely rare in Washington waters, but occasionally turn up in the Columbia around this time of year, notes Northwest Sportsman magazine. They were introduced to San Francisco Bay waters in the late 1800s and migrated up to Coos Bay and environs, but in recent years, with changing salinity, haven’t fared as well as they once did.

  • The first pink salmon of the year was counted at Bonneville Dam on June 24th. Pinks run to Washington rivers on odd-numbered years.

Lake Roosevelt levels declining slightly

RESERVOIRS — The level of Lake Roosevelt had peaked and was at elevation 1287.50 feet this morning. The lake levels are expected to continue slowly decreasing over the next week into the 1285-1286 feet range by July 3.  

Over the holiday weekend, lake levels are expected to rise by up to 6 inches a day.  The lake is expected to come to near the full pool elevation during the week of July 8. Full pool is 1290 feet.

High levels at Lake Roosevelt reduce the beach area available for camping and picnicking. Levels drop in August for hydropower needs and providing flows for Columbia River salmon. This exposes more beaches making August prime time for campers on the 130-mile-long lake.

Meanwhile:

Dworshak Reservoir is at full pool. In this case, it provides the best access of the year to the mini-camps the Corps of Engineers has built along the rervoir near Orofino, Idaho.

Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Sockeye season to open July 1 on upper Columbia

FISHING — Sockeye will be fair game in the upper Columbia River and some a portion of the Okanogan starting Monday, according to this anouncement posted today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:Allow retention of sockeye salmon from Priest Rapids Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam, including a portion of the lower Okanogan River

Effective dates and locations:

  • July 1, 2013 until further notice from Priest Rapids Dam to Wells Dam
  • July 16, 2013 until further notice from Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster
  • July 1, 2013 until further notice from Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam
  • July 1, 2013 until further notice from mouth of Okanogan River upstream to the first Highway 97 Bridge

Species affected:Sockeye salmon

Reason for action:Recent estimates of Okanogan sockeye are predicted to be adequate to allow for an anticipated low level (3,000-4,000) of angler harvest.

Other angler information:

  • Daily limit six (6) salmon.
  • No more than (2) adult hatchery chinook salmon and two (2) adult sockeye salmon may be retained in daily limit.
  • Minimum size for adult chinook salmon is 24 inches.
  • Minimum size for adult sockeye salmon is 12 inches.
  • Anglers must stop fishing once adult salmon limit has been harvested.
  • Barbless hooks required, bait is allowed.
  • Anglers may fish with two poles with two pole endorsement.
  • Anglers are reminded that salmon with floy tags and/or one or more holes (round, approximately ¼” in diameter) punched in the tail must be released.
  • Anglers must have a current Washington fishing license as well as a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement (CRSSE). Revenue from the CRSSE 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.

Spring chinook fishing closes on Snake

FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission has closed spring chinook salmon fishing on the Snake River.  Here's the announcement posted this afternoon:

Action: Closes spring chinook fishing on the Snake River.

Effective date: Immediately

Species affected: Spring chinook

Location:

Near Ice Harbor Dam: Below Ice Harbor Dam from the Highway 12 bridge near Pasco upstream about seven miles to about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.

Near Little Goose Dam: Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river approximately 3.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility.

Near Clarkston: From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Washington border and boundary water marker on the north shore.

Reason for action: Based on the declining spring chinook run, catch rates and cumulative season harvest estimates in the three fishery zones on the Snake River through this past Tuesday, and fishery ESA impact limitations, this fishery will close. 

Icicle River to reopen for spring chinook fishing

FISHING — Wow, we barely got the notice out that the Icicle River was closing to spring chinook fishing before fish managers changed their mind.  Here's the notice just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Actions:   Anglers will again be able to fish for and retain adipose-fin-clipped adult and jack spring chinook salmon on the Icicle River (Chelan Co.).
Effective dates:   June 20, 2013 through July 31, 2013.
Daily limit:   Daily limit two adipose-fin-clipped spring chinook (adult or jack), minimum size 12 inches. 
Species affected:   Spring chinook salmon. 
Location: Icicle River, from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Reason for action: The river was closed temporarily to ensure meeting broodstock needs.  Conditions over the past few days favored fish passage, and the remaining 400 adults needed for broodstock were obtained.  There are still 500-1,000 spring chinook forecast, mostly 3 year old jacks, available for harvest.
Other Information:   Night closure will be in effect. The regulation allowing two-pole angling on the Columbia River is not in effect on the Icicle River.  The Columbia River barbless hook requirement does not apply to the Icicle River.  

Sockeye fishing opens Friday on Hanford Reach

FISHING — The Hanford Reach of the Columbia River will open to fishing for sockeye salmon on Friday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced.

Here are the details:

Action:  Open the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River to the retention of sockeye salmon.

Effective date:   12:01 a.m. June 21 through July 31, 2013.  

Species affected:  Sockeye salmon.

Locations:  From Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam.

Reason for action:  The run of upper Columbia River sockeye returning to the Wenatchee River and the Okanogan River is sufficient to support the anticipated low level of harvest in the Hanford Reach below Priest Rapids Dam.

Other information:  The daily limit remains six (6) salmon, including sockeye and hatchery chinook only, but no more than two (2) adult hatchery chinook may be retained.

Anglers must have a current Washington fishing license. Check the current WDFW “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet or the Fishing section of the WDFW webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/  for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing regulations are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500; press 2 for recreational rules; call the Shellfish Rule Change hotline, (360) 796-3215, or toll free 1 (866) 880-5431.