Chinook fishing next spring may be best in years

10:53 am December 26th, 2013


2014 could be a good year for catching chinook salmon.

2014 could be a good year for catching chinook salmon.

By Bob Brown
Anglers who fish for spring chinook in the Columbia River have something to look forward to next year. Washington and Oregon fish managers are predicting 227,000 adult chinook will return to the mouth of the Columbia in 2014. That resonates into an 85 percent increase over the 2013 run of 123,100 fish.
Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist, Pacific States, said, “With the increased upriver spring chinook run size, there should be more opportunity especially from the Interstate 5 Bridge upstream. Bag limits and number of days on the Columbia will be figured out at the Jan. 21 joint state hearing.”
A bigger run in 2014 could mean an increase in the spring chinook catch that was close to 7,000 fish in 2013. Between Feb. 1 and June 15, it was estimated 109,655 anglers took part in the 2013 Columbia River spring chinook fishery.  
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking public comment through Jan. 9 on draft policies for managing Grays Harbor salmon and lower Columbia River white sturgeon populations. State fishery managers have been working with a citizen committee and the public since October to develop the draft options for a new policy to address conservation and catch allocation for Grays Harbor salmon fisheries. The goal of the policy is to ensure spawning goals are met for wild salmon returning to the basin and to give anglers and commercial fishers a clearer picture of what fishing opportunities they can expect each year. The draft policy options are available on the department’s website.
In February, the commission is scheduled to make a final decision on a draft policy for managing lower Columbia River white sturgeon. A public hearing will be held on the draft policy in January. The sturgeon policy is also available on the department’s website. Anglers are reminded that beginning Jan. 1, all white sturgeon in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam, the Washington coast, Puget Sound and their tributaries must be released. However, catch-and-release will be allowed in those areas.
Master Hunter apps due

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will be accepting applications for its Master Hunter Permit Program from Jan. 1 through Feb. 15. Hunters enrolling in the program must pay a $50 application fee, pass a criminal background check and a written test, demonstrate shooting proficiency, provide 20 hours of approved volunteer service and other qualifications described on the WDFW web site. Information can be had by contacting David Whipple, WDFW hunter education manager, at (360) 902-8111.
There are about 1,850 certified master hunters enrolled in the program.
Fishing report

• Fishing has been slow in the Skookumchuck, and fishing for chum has not been great on the Nisqually. At best, it has been an on-again, off-again fishery. Fishing hasn’t been any better on the Puyallup.
• During Dec. 2-8, Tacoma Power recovered 583 coho, 194 coho jacks, 107 winter steelhead, one summer steelhead and 14 cutthroat trout during seven days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. They also released 201 adult and 44 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.
Fishing has been fair for steelhead throughout the Cowlitz, said Jarrod Ligh of 4 Corners Store in Castle Rock. Most boat anglers have been plunking. At barrier dam anglers are catching mostly coho, but fishing hasn’t been that great.
• Angler effort was light on the Kalama last week. Some coho were reported released.
• A mixture of fall chinook, coho, and steelhead are being caught in the North Fork Lewis with light angler pressure. Action has been slow in the main stem. Steelhead are starting to move into the Wynoochee and a few are being caught in the lower river.
• Chum fishing has been pretty good in the Skokomish, said a spokesperson for Verles Sports in Shelton. Chartreuse-colored yarn and corkies has been the preferred bait.
• There is a lot of two-salt steelhead in the Chehalis and most are marked, said Charles McElroy of Sunbirds in Chehalis. Fishing has been pretty good from Porter downstream with plugs, jigs and spinners the preferred baits.

Potato pointer

Potatoes baked in the coals of an open fire are often burnt black on the outside, but raw on the inside. You can prevent this by pushing a clean spike through the spud. The metal carries heat to the center.
Bob Brown can be contacted at ‘

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