Test netting catches zero spring chinook

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Washington and Oregon cancelled a Columbia River Compact meeting scheduled today to consider a possible gillnet season opener.

Robin Ehlke of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said test netting on Tuesday and Wednesday totaled 16 drifts with no spring chinook and 17 steelhead.

Most of the steelhead were wild fish.

The netting was done between Rice Island and the Wahkiakum-Cowlitz county line, she said.

Officials are looking for a ratio of a high number of chinook compared to steelhead, which cannot be retained in a commercial fishery. The states also are looking at the ratio of upper Columbia-origin salmon compared to lower Columbia fish.

The commercial fleet normally fills its allocation of upper Columbia chinook before getting its share of salmon destined for Oregon's Willamette River.

Test netting will resume on Tuesday. If the results are favorable, a hearing might be scheduled for Feb. 22 and gillnetting start as early as Feb. 23.