HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
Under an agreement reached by Washington and Oregon fishery managers May 15, anglers will have through June 15 to catch hatchery spring chinook and steelhead in the lower Columbia from the Tongue Point/Rocky Port line upriver to Bonneville Dam.
Ron Roler, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishery manager, said “Anglers can catch and keep two adult salmon or steelhead or one each, but no more than one adult chinook per day. All sockeye, salmon and steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released.” According to an updated run projection, 224,000 upriver spring chinook will return to the Columbia this year. The pre-season projection anticipated a return of 227,000 upriver fish. The new projection reflects greater confidence in the run since last week when fishery managers projected a minimum return of 185,000 upriver fish this year.
“We have taken a conservation approach to the season so far, but the count of spring chinook past Bonneville Dam indicates our pre-season projection was on target,” Roler said. “Under this extension, anglers should be able to keep fishing in the lower river right up to the start of summer chinook season June 16.”
Anglers fishing the Columbia below the dam caught 10,084 upriver spring chinook through May 10, when the two-day extension ended.
Randall Stearns of Tacoma Power reported that during May 5-9, Tacoma Power employees recovered 179 winter steelhead, one summer steelhead, 104 spring chinook and 25 jacks at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. As of May 10, 5,328 winter steelhead and 529 spring chinook have returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Jarrod Ligh of 4 Corners Store in Castle Rock said fishing has been slow throughout the Cowlitz.
The Chehalis River has finally cleared and some anglers have been catching a few springers near the Highway 6 bridge.
Local lakes continue to produce limits of trout without a great deal of difficulty. Worms have been the preferred bait in most waters with Power Baits a close second.
Vail Tree Farm permits
The website for purchasing access permits to Weyerhaeuser’s Vail Tree Farm became operational May 19. A total of 800 permits will be available at $200 each. They will go on sale une 16 at 6 p.m. at www.WYRecreationNW.com. Weyerhaeuser advises interested individuals to read the web page carefully so they fully understand the permit terms. When a permit is purchased by successful applicants, the actual permit, hang tag, map and gate key will be mailed to them.
This season’s Nisqually River twenty day fishing closure has more than just a few anglers upset. Some are downright mad and are questioning the closure. Was it to give tribal fishermen increased opportunity to catch their share of returning salmon, or was it something else?
Larry Phillips, WDFW fish biologist, stated angler pressure and activity which has been increasing yearly needed curtailment because it was impacting wild fish recovery.
Nisqually fish biologist Dave Troutt said, “What we are trying to do is manage tribal and recreational fisheries to achieve an exploration rate of 52 percent.” Whether this explanation will sooth ruffled feathers remains to be seen.
The WDFW was not forthcoming in explaining the reason for the closures and it should have. The recreational community takes a dim view of having their favorite outdoors activity curtailed without a viable explanation. While the department has had its moments of grandeur, the lack of communicating the reason for the Nisqually closures is not one of them.
Additional information regarding the Nisqually River closures can be had by contacting Larry Phillips, WDFW fish biologist at 1 (360) 902-2721.
Outdoors writer Bob Brown can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org