Columbia is chinook challenged

Fishing: Count is 659, and catch rate lowest in more than 10 years

April 13, 2011 

Anglers who have fished the Columbia River know firsthand, but a state report said this year's catch rate is the lowest since at least 2000. Through Sunday, just 659 adult chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam. Last year 7,148 fish had been counted at this time. The recent 10-year average is 16,764.

Anglers also have had to contend with very high water flows. After reaching 400,000 cfs at Bonneville Dam on April 6, flows are expected to average just under 300,000 cfs for at least the next week and a half. The 10-year average for this time of year is 183,000 cfs, said the state report.


Cispus: Tacoma Power employees released 57 steelhead and one spring chinook adult last week into the river above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.

Columbia: The action has been fair since the lower river reopened to chinook fishing. From Friday-Sunday, the state checked 1,436 anglers who had 108 adult and one jack chinook and 11 steelhead, said state fish biologist Joe Hymer. Boat anglers averaged an adult chinook kept/released per every 10.5 rods; bank anglers averaged one per every 32.3 rods. Sturgeon fishing has been slow.

Cowlitz: Fishing remains fair to good, depending on the day. Anglers are landing good catches of steelhead at Blue Creek, when the bite is on, said Marshall Borsom of Fish Country. Boaters are using diver and coon shrimp or side-drifting eggs; bank anglers are using sand shrimp, corky and yarn or jig and bobber. Borsom said a couple of spring chinook were caught at the barrier dam last weekend.

East Fork Lewis: From its mouth to the top boat ramp at Lewisville Park will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Saturday. Selective gear rules will be in effect; no bait may be used.

Skookumchuck: Steelhead action has been pretty good in recent days. Pink seems to be the hot color for corkies and yarn or jigs, according to a report at

Tilton: Tacoma Power crews released 20 winter-run steelhead into the river at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

Yakima: The upper river might be the best option right now, according to reports from The Evening Hatch and Red’s Fly Shop. The river is still running very high, 5,610 cfs at Umtanum on Tuesday morning.


American: Trout fishing has been a bit slow lately, said Mike Barr at Bill’s Boathouse. The planned release of 6,500 trout that were raised over the winter should change that.

Lenore: Cutthroat trout action has been steady but a bit on the slow side. Fly anglers are having luck with chironomid patterns fished several feet below the surface when the winds aren’t blowing.

Merwin: Fishing has been very good. Anglers are catching kokanee near the surface. A state check of 42 anglers showed 130 kept kokanee and nine released plus five rainbows kept.

Offut: The action was a bit slow in recent days, according to online reports.

Riffe: Fishing is fair, with some silvers being caught, Borsom said.


Fort Flagler State Park: The sport clam and oyster fishing season at will open Friday. Fishing will be open until further notice because surveys indicate that clam populations have increased and will support a fishery one month longer than in 2010.

Strait of Juan de Fuca: This is the place to find the most consistent catches of blackmouth. Fishing from Sekiu to Port Angeles has been producing some salmon weighing in the mid-teens.

Tacoma: Fishing is still very slow. Decent weather brought out more anglers, but not the fish. A creel check of 50 anglers at local docks showed no salmon.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

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