FISHING -- See what you missed: Here's the March steelhead fishing report for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia just released by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth.
Lower Reach (Hwy 395 to old Hanford town site):
An estimated 353 steelhead were caught and 264 steelhead were harvested in March. Anglers are averaging 1 steelhead for each 12 hours of fishing. Boat anglers have faired better than the shore anglers at 10 hours per steelhead versus 20 hours per steelhead for bank anglers. A total of 1,727 steelhead have been caught this season and 1,275 hatchery steelhead have been harvested. WDFW staff sampled 26% of the estimated angler effort in this fishery in March and 29% for the season. Catch and harvest numbers are well below the 2008 and 2009 fisheries but similar to those of 2004-07.
Effective April 1 this fishery is restricted to bank anglers only. The boundary area for the bank fishery is from the WDFW marker ¼ mile downstream of the Ringold irrigation wasteway outlet to the marker ½ mile upstream of Spring Creek. The fishery will close to fishing for steelhead on April 15.
Upper Reach (Vernita Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam):
On March 31, the steelhead sport fishery on the Columbia River between the Hwy 24 bridge (Vernita Bridge) and Priest Rapids Dam was closed by emergency regulation change to the retention of hatchery steelhead. This fishery was opened on December 8, 2010. This was the first time this area has been open in the winter for steelhead in many years. Angler effort was been relatively light with limited harvest in December and January. This fishery averaged 1 boat trip per day. Very few anglers fished from shore for steelhead. No steelhead were reported in February or March. An estimated 157 steelhead have been caught in this fishery with 46 hatchery steelhead harvested.