Outdoors blog 3/3

By Al Thomas, Columbian Outdoors Reporter



Here are a trio of items that crossed my desk during the week I was gone to central Oregon to do some cross-country skiing:

Smelt in Kalama

Keith Hyde, president of the new Columbia River chapter of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, was fishing in the lower Kalama in late February when he noticed seagulls diving into the river, grabbing small fish and flying off.

On closer inspection, Hyde noticed the fish were smelt.

“I don’t remember smelt being in the Kalama since the late 1970s or early 1980s,” Hyde said. “I talked to the lady in the campground who said she had seen the same thing and had other guests asking her about it.”

The last year there were any commercial smelt landings in the Kalama was 1993.

I had several calls and emails last winter about brief showings of smelt in several lower Columbia River tributaries.

With the federal listing of smelt under the Endangered Species Act, sport and commercial dipping is closed.

Sturgeon number

The final catch estimate for the Bonneville pool sturgeon fishery is 940, which is 47 percent of the allocation of 2,000.

Washington and Oregon officials plan to reopen sturgeon retention this summer, probably about the time school gets out. Anglers in The Dalles area said the sturgeon are concentrated in the lower Bonneville pool in the winter, but distribute more evenly later in the year.

When fishing reopens, don’t anticipate it to stay open more than a few days.


Test netting is scheduled for Sunday in the lower Columbia. Check this website on Monday for the catch results and to see if the Columbia River Compact meets to adopt a commercial season.