By Bob Brown
July is typically a period of laid-back outdoor recreational activity, with fishing a big part of that activity. With summer fishing seasons now open for trout and other species, anglers have been flocking to area lakes, rivers and coastal waters in droves, and although opportunities are there, catching hasn’t been that great.
On the Cowltz River, Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reported that July 3-9 samplings taken from the I-5 Bridge downstream showed two boats and 25 bank anglers had no catch. Above the bridge: 142 boat rods kept four adult spring chinook, 37 steelhead, and one cutthroat with 26 cutthroats released. Also, 155 bank rods kept 26 adult spring chinook and 10 steelhead and released four adult and two jack spring chinook, one steelhead and one cutthroat.
During the first nine days of July, samplings taken below Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam by WDFW personnel tallied 1,081 salmon anglers (including 183 boats) with 72 summer chinook and four jacks, 82 steelhead, and one sockeye.
Through July 10, a total of 51,036 summer chinook were counted at Bonneville Dam. The counts to date are slightly above expectations based on the pre-season forecast of 63,100 adults. Through that same date, 82,034 sockeye were counted at the dam, which is well below expectations based on the pre-season forecast of 198,500 fish.
Fishing continues to be pretty good for shad on the Columbia, where 188 anglers caught 601 shad and released 16 last week. Walleye fishing was also outstanding in the John Day Pool.
There is money to be made by anglers participating in the Bonneville Power Administration-funded Northern Pikeminnow Sports Reward Fishery. During the first week of July, 202 anglers at The Dalles caught 1,804 pikeminnows, plus six tagged fish worth $500 each. At Boyer Park 191 anglers caught 3,066 pikes and at Columbia Point 145 anglers caught 1,102 pikeminnows. To date, participating anglers have caught a total of 105,188 pikeminnows in the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The Sport Reward Fishery pays $6 for the first 26 to 200 pikeminnows caught, nine inches or larger; 201 and up pays $ 8 per pike; and tagged fish bring in $500 each. Also, tag loss fish with verified PIT tags pay $100.
Meanwhile, on the coast, Wendy Beeghley of the WDFW reported coastwide ocean recreational catch totals last week (including Oregon) tallied 6,301 anglers with 2,795 chinook and 689 coho kept. Total salmon caught per angler trip was 0.56.
Austen Thomas PhD, research scientist with Smith-Root, Inc, has a unique suggestion on how to reduce harbor seal predation on Puget Sound salmon. Thomas said seals are opportunistic predators that eat salmon only when their preferred food is not abundant. That preferred food is forage fish, such as the energy rich northern anchovy. According to Thomas, the best solution to the predation problem is to put significant effort and resources into restoring and expanding the food web and the forage fish/gadoids that likely reduced predation pressure on salmon populations in the past. That might be a better and humane solution than the use of a 30-06 advocated by some individuals in the recreation community. Needless to say, the WDFW is open to viable suggestions.
Bob Brown lives in Roy and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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