Columbia fishery managers are starting to see more springers caught as salmon anglers begin to fish more earnestly, and while 2018’s score is better than it was at this same point last March it’s nothing to write home about, yet.
“Effort is increasing, but catch rates are still low:” reports ODFW’s Jimmy Watts in a weekly update sent out by Joe Hymer of PSFMC at WDFW’s Ridgefield office.
“Last week on the Lower Columbia, anglers made 6,973 trips and caught 193 adult spring Chinook (169 kept and 24 released) and 25 winter steelhead (nine kept and 16 released),” Watts reported. “Based on VSI sampling, upriver spring Chinook comprised 40% of the kept catch.”
That brings the overall estimated effort on the 2018 season to 212 springers retained (136 lower rivers, 76 uprivers) and 29 released over 15,545 angler trips.
Watts’ March 19, 2017 update showed 41, 6 and 6,210.
And his March 20, 2016 one had 923, 109 and 26,429.
As for where the fish are biting in March, catch stats show an estimated 53 retained by boat anglers between the mouth of the Multnomah Channel and Deer Island, between Woodland and Kalama/St. Helens and Goble, and 40 above there along Sauvie Island.
Another 31 have been kept well downstream in the area of Puget Island up to Wallace Island.
Oregon plunkers are estimated to have caught eight, Washington none.
The Lower Columbia is open up to Bonneville (bank only above Beacon Rock) with a daily limit of one hatchery springer through April 7 with a quota of 6,680 bound for tribs above the dam.
This year’s forecast of 166,700 upriver fish is an uptick over 2017, but the Bonneville count so far of just seven (with two of those probably late fall kings) is among the lowest going back to the early 1990s. The 10-year average through March 20 is 95.