HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
A huge, 52-pound striped bass was recently caught in the lower Columbia River by Jason Lake, a commercial fisherman from the Lynnwood area. Jason caught the fish in a gillnet while fishing in the Bridal Veil area of the Columbia between Bonneville Dam and the gorge mouth. The bass was carrying nearly 10 pounds of eggs, but also had an empty stomach.
Striped bass can live up to 40 years, reach lengths of nearly five feet and weigh close to 100 pounds. Females can grow significantly larger than males and most stripers over 30 pounds are females. The number of eggs produced by a female is directly related to the size of its body; a 12-pound female may produce about 850,000 eggs, and a 55-pound female about 4.2 million eggs. Females mature no earlier than four years, and some not until six or eight. By contrast, most males reach sexual maturity at two or three years of age.
The migratory behavior of coastal striped bass are more complex than other anadromous fish that spend most of their adult lives in the ocean and migrate up rivers and stream to spawn. Striped-bass seasonal movements depend upon age, sex, degree of maturity and the river in which they were born. Shortly after pawning, mature bass return to the ocean. Male striped-bass rarely live over 19 years, while females can live to be 20 years old.
Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist for Pacific States Marine Fishery, said, “Every few years some odd fish like the striped bass will show up and this is the largest one from we have heard. There is a population of striped bass on the southern Oregon coast (in the Smith and Umpqua rivers) and occasionally somebody will get one.”
Shad hits the dam, and other fish stories
• Over 3.6 million shad have been counted to date at Bonneville Dam, making it the fifth-highest count since at least 1946, and more fish are expected. Approximately 16,285 shad were counted passing over the dam June 24. The record is 5.4 million shad.
• Returning chinook and steelhead numbers are slowly increasing in the Cowlitz, but the catching hasn’t seen much improvement. The week of June 17- 21 saw 192 chinook, 35 jacks, 136 mini-jacks, 171 summer steelhead and one cutthroat were recovered at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.
A sampling check of bank anglers between the hatchery counted 57 bank anglers with one hatchery steelhead and released three adult and one jack chinook Twenty-one boat anglers kept seven hatchery steelhead and released one adult chinook.
• All but one marine area of Puget Sound opened for crab fishing July 1. The exception is Marine Area 7 which will open July 15 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and August 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of George). The crab fishery in all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open Thursday through Monday each week, however, the season gets under way with a one-day opening (July 1) and will be closed July 2-3 before reopening on its regular weekly schedule Thursday, July 4. The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6.5 inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least five inches across.
Mike Cenci, deputy chief of Washington Department of Wildlife’s enforcement division, reminds crabbers to review the rules of the fishery before heading out on the water.