Longer season scheduled for Buoy 10 this summer

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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The popular Buoy 10 fall chinook fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River is scheduled to continue through Labor Day in 2012. It would be the first time since 2007 the season has extended into September.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council last week adopted ocean salmon seasons for the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. Fishing regulations for inside waters such as the Columbia River also are set as part of the six-week-long PFMC process.

Buoy 10 is the name given the fall salmon season between Buoy No. 10 at the entrance to the Columbia River and a line stretching between Tongue Point in Oregon and Rocky Point in Washington, 16 miles upstream.

Chinook fishing is often very good in the latter half of August at Buoy 10, with a huge flotilla of boats trolling mostly upstream of the Astoria Bridge.

Labor Day this year is Sept. 3. Buoy 10 closed for chinook on Aug. 28 in 2011 and Aug. 31 in 2010. In 2008, the season closed as early on Aug, 25.

“Buoy 10 season is huge for the bait shops, restaurants and motels,’’ said Butch Smith, owner of Coho Charters in Ilwaco and chair of the PFMC’s salmon advisory panel. “It’s one last kick economically before the exodus starts from our community.’’

The communities of Ilwaco, Chinook and Astoria lose about 15,000 angler trips and all the associated spending when chinook retention ends a week before Labor Day, he said.

Buoy 10 will be open this year from Aug. 1 through Sept. 3 with a two salmon daily limit, although only one chinook. Only hatchery-origin coho may be kept.

“This will help keep people in the community,’’ Smith added.

Although the season is scheduled through Labor Day, it is still possible the season could close sooner depending on the particular stocks of chinook being harvested.

From Sept. 4-30, the Buoy 10 limit will be two hatchery coho, with all chinook released.

Lower Columbia — Fishing between Tongue Point-Rocky Point and Bonneville Dam for fall salmon will be open Aug. 1 through Sept. 9. The daily limit will be two salmon, but only one chinook. Chinook retention from Sept. 10-30 will be limited to upstream of the mouth of the Lewis River.

During the Sept. 10-30 period, two chinook may be kept between the Lewis and Bonneville.

Ocean seasons — Salmon angling in the ocean between Cape Falcon (near Nehalem, Ore.) and Leadbetter Point at the northern tip of Long Beach Peninsula will be open June 9-22 for hatchery chinook only, with a two-fish daily limit.

The main season for the Columbia River ports opens daily on June 23 with a two-fish limit, but only one chinook and only fin-clipped coho. The quota is 34,860 fin-clipped coho.

At Westport, the early, chinook-only season will be June 9-23, with the main season starting June 24 and open Sundays through Thursdays. The coho quota is 25,800 fin-clipped fish.