The dam count sucks, early catches have been poor, the big river’s murky and nearly a foot above flood stage, there’s a buttload more water on the way, researchers say the fish forecast may be too high, our chief Columbia River salesman has been looking for jagged glass shards all day and a guy just landed a real nice springer.
That guy would be one Scott Dunbar of Vancouver, who was out with guide Brandon Glass when the hatchery Chinook bit today.
“According to Brandon, the fish went for a plug-cut herring trolled 36 inches behind a double Fish Flash set-up,” reports Yakima Bait’s Buzz Ramsey, who this afternoon forwarded images of Dunbar’s catch.
It’s one of the few caught so far this season.
According to estimates from Columbia salmon managers, all of 41 springers have been kept in March through the 19th, including 11 last week.
That estimate — which is a combination of X anglers interviewed with Y physically observed kings and an extrapolated catch for the rest of the river’s fishermen — show that Oregon and Washington bankees and boaters are basically in a three-way tie so far, where usually boaters are way out ahead.
That’s likely because of the big water rolling down the Columbia, which is running at 16.75 feet or so at Vancouver (flood level is 16) and projected to stay in the brush until April Fools, according to the Northwest River Forecast Center.
“Due to the high somewhat turbid water they were trolling near shore in slack water,” Ramsey reports about Glass and Dunbar.
River conditions and sea lion predation could be dampening the turnout at Bonneville, but so far only 12 springers have been counted at the dam, second worst for the same point of the run back through at least the late 1990s, a review of records here yesterday showed.
While this year’s forecast calls for 160,400 above-Bonneville-bound springers (plus several tens of thousands more to the Cowlitz, Willamette and Kalama), in recent days federal and university scientists have said that that could be even lower due to poor ocean conditions when this year’s returning adults went to sea during the height of The Blob.
If you do venture onto the Columbia, definitely be aware of the high volumes coursing through the system, woody debris and other hazards, and consider adding a second flasher and fishing in softer water.