Tag Archives: upriver brights

Drano Closing For All Fishing; Ringold Won’t Open For Steelhead

THE FOLLOWING ARE EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICES FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Drano Lake to close to all fishing

Action: Closes Drano Lake to all fishing.

Effective date: Sept. 29, 2019 until further notice.

Species affected: All fish species.

COLUMBIA SALMON ANGLERS ARE OUT ONE MORE PLACE TO FISH FOR FALL CHINOOK THIS SEASON AS WDFW ANNOUNCES THAT DRANO LAKE WILL CLOSE TO ALL ANGLING TO GET AS MANY FISH BACK TO THE NATIONAL HATCHERY ON THE LITTLE WHITE SALMON AS POSSIBLE. GUIDE GERARDO REYES CAUGHT THIS LARGE WILD UPRIVER BRIGHT EARLIER THIS MONTH AT THE LAKE WHICH DOUBLES AS A THERMAL REFUGE FOR SALMON AND STEELHEAD BOUND FOR SPAWNING GROUNDS HIGHER IN THE COLUMBIA BASIN. (FLATOUTFISHING.NET)

Location: In the waters downstream of markers on point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of the Highway 14 Bridge.

Reason for action:  The current estimate of fall Chinook salmon that will return to Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery is below the number needed to meet the 2019 broodstock collection goal. Closing the fishing season in Drano Lake will increase the number of hatchery fish available for broodstock and help ensure future hatchery returns.

Additional information: WDFW will continue coordinating with National Fish Hatchery staff to monitor the hatchery return and determine if further fishery modification is needed.

Hanford Reach steelhead fishery to remain closed

Action: Closes steelhead fishing

Effective date: Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Location: Highway 395 Bridge (Kennewick/Pasco) upstream to the old Hanford townsite powerline crossing.

Reason for action: Through Sept. 24, the 2019 steelhead return is the fourth-lowest return on record since 1962 for both the Upper Columbia River and Snake River. Adult returns of Ringold Springs Hatchery-origin steelhead are currently tracking at less than 50 percent of the 2018 return. The closure is necessary to ensure sufficient numbers of steelhead will be available to meet hatchery broodstock production needs.

Additional information: This year’s return of Ringold Springs Hatchery steelhead is expected to be the lowest return on record over the past 20 years. All returning steelhead will be needed for broodstock to meet the production goal of 180,000 juvenile steelhead scheduled for release in 2021. The Hanford Reach is currently closed to steelhead retention, but was scheduled to open Oct. 1. Under this rule change, steelhead retention will remain closed through Dec. 31.

Hanford Reach Fishing Report (9-24-19)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORT WAS FORWARDED BY PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW

Over 1,400 anglers fished for fall chinook in the Hanford Reach this past week. Fishing, both in terms of numbers of anglers and harvest, picked up last week. Boats averaged over a fish per boat, 14 hours per fish. Bank anglers at the Ringold Springs access harvested 22 adult chinook and 17 jacks, 23 hours per chinook.

From September 16 through September 22, WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 494 boats (1,293 anglers) and 108 bank anglers with 563 adult chinook and 41 jacks. An estimated 1,627 adult chinook and 106 chinook jacks were harvested for the week (expanded). For the season there have been 9,790 angler trips with 2,381 adult chinook, 264 chinook jacks, and 8 coho harvested. Harvest is trailing only slightly behind last year at this time. (2018 =2,477 adult chinook).

Adult counts of fall chinook over Bonneville are running 44% above last year’s numbers and McNary counts finally picked up and are running 12% above last year at this time.

BROOKLYN BRODERS HOISTS A GREAT FIRST SALMON, A JACK UPRIVER BRIGHT CAUGHT IN THE 300 AREA OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER’S HANFORD REACH. SHE WAS FISHING WITH HER DAD TROY AND RUNNING BRAD’S CUT PLUG STUFFED WITH TUNA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

In addition to the US v Oregon Agreement, the Hanford Reach URB population is managed under the Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Management Plan. The population is managed to meet the Hanford Reach URB escapement goal of 31,100 – 42,000 adults (naturally spawning population). Harvest allocated to the fishery is based on in-season return estimates. An in-season estimate is generated weekly beginning September 15 for the Hanford Reach wild component of the return. The estimate is generated based on current passage through the fish ladders at McNary, Ice Harbor, and Priest Rapids Dams and projected migration timing. Based on numbers through September 23, an estimated 47,062 adult, wild (natural origin) fall chinook are expected to return to the Hanford Reach. At 47,000, 10,900 adult chinook are allocated to the Hanford Reach sport fishery. This allocation plus the current one adult daily limit should be sufficient to continue the fishery for the foreseeable future and potentially through the end of the scheduled season. The next in-season update will be posted October 1.

Columbia King Managers Decide Against 1-day Lower River Opener

Columbia fall Chinook managers today reduced the bag limit in the Hanford Reach to one but also passed on a lower river reopener in favor of giving gorge pools anglers continued access to this year’s run.

WDFW and ODFW staffers had recommended opening the big river from Buoy 10 to Bonneville this Saturday for fall kings after the URB component forecast was upgraded slightly, from 159,200 to 167,200.

COLUMBIA SALMON MANAGERS DECIDED AGAINST REOPENING THE LOWER RIVER FOR ONE DAY OF CHINOOK RETENTION. STEVE MEUCHEL AND KARI WILLARD CAUGHT THIS PAIR OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN ST. HELENS AREA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

That would have coincided with sturgeon retention (above Wauna) and was modeled to yield a catch of 950 kings.

It would also have taken upriver bright, or URB, catch-plus-release mortalities to 99 percent of what managers are allowing this season.

(The fishery was closed earlier this month three days early after exceeding the initial URB allocation for that runsize and stretch of water.)

But during a midafternoon conference call there was only mixed support for the one-day opener, with state sportfishing advisors in favor and the general public not.

Some didn’t have any appetite for all the days anglers would subsequently lose on the Columbia between Bonneville and Highway 395 in Tri-Cities, which would be forced to close much earlier than scheduled to provide the room for the lower reopener.

Dan Grogan of Fisherman’s Marine called that “absolutely ludicrous,” while others talked to issues of fairness and upriver anglers taking it in the shorts for lower fishermen’s opportunities in the past.

It would also cut into apparently better-than-is-being-let-on fishing in the pools, if images from Fish Camp this week and one advisor’s report are any indication.

The call also confirmed continuing concerns on two fronts: tule Chinook broodstock, and steelhead.

WDFW’s Bill Tweit warned that Drano Lake king catches were being watched very closely and it wasn’t clear how long the fishery would stay open.

Managers are worried about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Little White Salmon and Spring Creek Hatcheries collecting enough adult tules for spawning. While the latter facility is seeing good numbers, a lot are also jacks.

As for steelhead, the run has again been downgraded, the fourth time in the past few weeks, now to 69,200, with just 2,500 B-runs expected.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is meeting Friday and could shut down all fishing for steelhead on the Clearwater and much of the shared Snake, and Washington will likely follow suit, Tweit indicated.

WDFW and ODFW were also advised they needed to put out a statement directing anglers to not even catch-and-release steelhead in areas where they’ve been closed to retention due to the low return.

As for Hanford Reach URBs, with only 22,121 wild kings expected to spawn in the free-flowing section of the Columbia — well below the escapement goal of 31,100 — the daily limit will drop from two to one starting Friday, Sept. 20, WDFW announced this morning.

Even though the Reach and the Columbia from McNary downstream are managed under two different plans, it might not have looked very good to have allowed downriver fishermen to intercept 500 or so URBs needed up at Hanford as anglers there see their catch reduced.

In other Columbia Chinook news, yesterday tribal managers OKed six more days of commercial gillnetting in the gorge pools, which will bring the URB catch to 15,375 of the 38,456 available at current run sizes.

‘Slight Improvement’ Expected For 2019 Columbia Fall Chinook Runs

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM WDFW’S U.S. VS. OREGON TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE SUBGROUP

COLUMBIA RIVER FALL CHINOOK

2018 Forecast/Actual Returns and 2019 Preseason Forecasts The forecasts shown here are estimates made in February in preparation for the North of Falcon season-setting process. Once the North of Falcon process is complete, these February forecasts will change slightly. Final forecasts will be available in mid-April.

1Subset of URB

2First year for predicting LRB which was formerly a component of BUB stock.

2019 Forecasts

? LRH – Similar to last year’s actual return, about 60% of the 10-year average.

? LRW – Improved over 2018 actual return, 85% of the 10-year average.

? LRB – Forecast is more than twice the 10-year average.

? BPH – Improved over 2018 actual return, about half of the 10-year average.

? URB – Similar to last year’s actual return.

? PUB – Improved over 2018 actual return, about two-thirds of the 10-year average.

? SAB – Forecast is 27% of the recent 10-year average.

? Total Return – Slight improvement over 2018 actual return. Several years of poor ocean conditions are likely contributing to the decreased returns.


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Hanford Reach Angler Pines For Past Years’ Larger Returns Of 5-year-old URBs

By Rick Itami

Back in the early 1990s when I first tried my luck at catching the famous upriver bright fall Chinook salmon in the Hanford Reach of the mighty Columbia River, I was amazed to see huge fish rolling all over the river.

THE NUMBER OF 5-YEAR-OLD FALL CHINOOK RETURNING TO THE COLUMBIA RIVER’S HANFORD REACH HAS DROPPED IN RECENT YEARS. PRIOR TO 2006, ONE-THIRD OF THE RUN CAME IN AS 5’S, ON AVERAGE, BUT SINCE THEN THE PERCENTAGE HAS DROPPED TO 18. DAVE SITTON CAUGHT THIS BEAST IN 2012. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

And when I say huge, I mean salmon running in the 30- to 40-pound range. The first time I hooked one of these giants, I fought it for 20 minutes before my 30-pound-test monofilament finally snapped when I tried to horse the fish into the net.

In those days, outdoor sections of newspapers often contained photos of smiling fishermen displaying monster fall Chinook caught with regularity.

Fast forward to the present and you have a totally different scenario. You simply do not see anglers landing many really large fish as before.

Toby Wyatt, owner/operator of Reel Time Fishing (208-790-2128) and who is one of the most successful guides on the Hanford Reach, says his clients land just a few fish in the 30-plus-pound range. Most of his catch ranges in the 10- to 20-pound range. He misses getting his clients into the monsters.

So what happened to the giants of the Hanford Reach?

AUTHOR RICK ITAMI HOLDS AN UPRIVER BRIGHT FROM THIS PAST SEASON, A 12-POUND HEN. A FISH’S AGE, THE LENGTH OF TIME IT SPENDS IN THE PACIFIC AND OCEAN PRODUCTIVITY DETERMINE HOW BIG A SALMON GROWS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Paul Hoffarth, Region III fisheries biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, confirms the drop in size of fish. Surprisingly and for unknown reasons, Hoffarth says that a significant shift in the age structure of fish happened all in one year — 2006.

Prior to 2006, roughly one-third (34 percent) of the upriver brights were the big 5-year-old fish and 37 percent were 4-year-olds.

Beginning in 2006, the percentage of 5-year-olds has averaged 18 percent (with a range of 10 to 28 percent) and has never recovered.

Hoffarth does not know why the decline happened so suddenly and no studies have been done to determine a cause or causes. Therefore, no one knows if the age structure will return to pre-2006 levels.

So we anglers are left in the dark as to what the future of the upriver bright population has in store in terms of the size of fish caught. Let’s hope whatever caused the flip in the age structure of these magnificent fish will just as suddenly flip the other way.

I would love to see a river full of rolling giants again.

Hanford Reach Fall King Fishery Closing Early Next Week

Fall Chinook fishing on the Hanford Reach will stay open through Monday, giving anglers one last weekend to catch upriver brights on the free-flowing Columbia.

SPOKANE’S RICK ITAMI WAS A BIT PESSIMISTIC ABOUT FISHING FOR HANFORD REACH FALL CHINOOK, GIVEN THE LOWER RUN, BUT ONCE THERE HE FOUND WILLING BITERS, INCLUDING A 12-POUND HEN THAT WILL PROVIDE EGGS FOR HIS STEELHEADING ADVENTURES THIS WINTER AND A 10-POUND BUCK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

While this year’s run is down and the limit has been dropped to one a day, fishermen have still been finding biting salmon.

Some have been reporting success running tuna-stuffed Brad’s Super Baits behind Pro-Trolls. They’ll probably have less competition this weekend, which is also the deer and duck opener across the state.

The Reach above the wooden powerlines at the old Hanford townsite to Priest Rapids Dam was set to close after Oct. 15, but it wasn’t clear when the waters from there down to Tri-Cities would shut down as the run continued to trickle past downstream dams.

An early October update from state fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth warned the quota might be met by Oct. 7, then another earlier this week said fishing would stay open through this Friday, Oct. 12.

“Based on the updated return estimate for natural-origin Hanford Reach fall Chinook, all adult Chinook in excess of escapement will be harvested by Oct. 15,” WDFW said in an emergency rule-change notice sent out this afternoon.

If you still want to fish the free-flowing Columbia for upriver brights — and for a good cause — sign up for late October’s 6th Annual King of the Reach derby, a three-day event that collects wild fall Chinook for the Grant County Public Utility District’s Priest Rapids Hatchery, improving the stock’s fitness and ensuring that hatchery fish remain genetically similar to the natives here.

2018 Columbia Fall Salmon Outlook, SW WA Tribs Springer Forecasts Issued

Columbia salmon managers are offering more glimpses at how 2018 returns to the big river may shape up.

Following on last week’s spring Chinook forecast, this afternoon they’ve issued outlooks for fall Chinook and coho stocks.

RETURNS OF FALL BRIGHTS TO THE HANFORD REACH ARE EXPECTED TO RETURN AT PRE-2013 LEVELS, WHICH IS TO SAY, NOT AS GOOD AS WE’VE BEEN SEEING IN RECENT SEASONS. CLAY AND WILLIAM HULL SHOW OFF ONE CAUGHT ON THE HANFORD REACH THIS YEAR. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

But where the year’s first salmon is predicted to see an uptick, it doesn’t look as positive for the year’s last major runs.

Here’s what the just-issued report says in full:

COLUMBIA RIVER FALL CHINOOK
2017 PRELIMINARY RETURNS AND
OUTLOOK FOR 2018

2017 Preliminary Returns
? Adult fall Chinook returns were predicted to be 614,000 fish.
? Preliminary returns are about three-fourths of the forecast.
? Bright stock jack returns are similar to last year.

2018 Outlook
? Bright stocks should be similar to years prior to 2013.
? Tule stocks should be less than the recent 10 year average.
? Poor ocean conditions along the Oregon and Washington coasts could potentially have negative impacts on tule fall Chinook and Coho returns.

Columbia River Coho
? 2017 preliminary return is a little over half of the preseason forecast of 319,300.
? Jack returns to the Columbia River are about 70% of the recent 3-year average.

Tule Stocks
LRH – Lower River Hatchery stock
BPH – Bonneville Pool Hatchery stock
Bright Stocks
URB – Upriver Bright stock
PUB – Pool Upriver Bright stock
BUB – Bonneville Bright stock
LRW – Lower River Wild stock
SAB – Select Area Bright stock

And in one final burst of foresoothery, WDFW’S Region 5 office put predictions for the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis: