A relatively new run of Mid-Columbia coho is beginning to arrive in the waters off a Southcentral Washington hatchery and state biologists are reporting good catch rates.
“The late-run coho just started showing up in numbers at the Ringold Springs Hatchery facility,” WDFW’s Paul Hoffarth emailed this morning. “Fifty-two adult coho and 3 jacks were collected in the volunteer trap at the facility on Thursday, November 3. This should signal the start of the return.”
He reports that six bank anglers at the Ringold Springs access, just north of Tri-Cities, kept four adults and two jacks.
“One coho for every three hours of fishing,” Hoffarth calculates. “Boat anglers are also beginning to pick up a few coho.”
“Be aware of the closed fishing water boundaries at Ringold Springs Creek and below the spillway at the Ringold irrigation wasteway (see WDFW Sport Fishing Rules for complete details),” he adds.
This is the second year of adult returns to the state facility here. Like coho that have been planted in other inland portions of the Columbia and Snake Rivers by tribes and ODFW, these fish originate from Lower Columbia stocks.
While those efforts are to restore runs and fisheries that were extirpated by dam building and development, Ringold’s fish are “part of the increased salmon production for southern resident killer whales in Puget Sound and to increase fishing opportunities from Washington all the way to Alaska,” WDFW reported in November 2020 about the new program.
A quarter of a million young coho are reared at Ringold for half a year before being released into the Columbia. The fish spend about 18 months at sea before heading back to the hatchery.
This particular run is late timed and last year saw 2,817 return to the hatchery’s trap by the week before Christmas, Hoffarth reported.
A graph he passed along showed strongest weekly counts from mid-November to early December. He anticipates that this year’s return will follow the same schedule, with fishing picking up later this month.
Jeff Holmes reported on this new fishery in the October issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine.
“A large return of coho is expected to return to the Hanford Reach this fall at the Ringold Hatchery, and Tri-Cities anglers are chomping at the bit for these fish, which are the larger, later-returning B-run coho. This will be the second year of returns, but more and larger (two-salt) fish are expected this year. Released notionally as food for southern resident killer whales, the coho will at least end up on some dinner tables,” Holmes wrote.
“Along with standard trolling techniques employed on the Hanford Reach, anglers should carry twitching jigs and Vibrax and other casting spinners. Fishing slightly above Ringold, around the hatchery creek itself, and downstream of Ringold in the excellent eddies and slow-moving backwaters of the free-flowing Columbia are good ideas. Watch for surface action in these areas and be prepared to experiment to figure out this new run. A handful of anglers did quite well at Ringold last year, and this year is expected to be much better,” he tipped.