Spring chinook anglers to get two more days in Columbia Gorge

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Spring chinook angling will reopen for two days — Saturday and Sunday — in the Columbia River Gorge upstream of Bonneville Dam.

Washington and Oregon agreed on the reopener after the forecast of spring chinook destined for upstream of Bonneville was increased from 202,000 to 216,500.

Boat and bank anglers can fish from the Tower Island power lines, a few miles downstream of The Dalles Dam, to the Washington-Oregon state line, 17 miles up the Columbia from McNary Dam at Umatilla, Ore.

Bank anglers also can fish from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines.

The distance between Bonneville Dam the Washington-Oregon border is 163 miles.

Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the states may consider additional openings both upstream and down of Bonneville Dam if the estimated size of the spring run continues to increase.

A meeting is scheduled at 3 p.m. Tuesday to review the counts at Bonneville and consider additional openings. Fishing the Columbia Gorge closed on May 6. Fishing downstream of Bonneville closed on April 23, based on catch-sharing agreements

"All eyes are on the fish counts at Bonneville Dam,'' LeFleur said. "This run is one of the latest on record, so we really have to gauge from one week to the next how many spring chinook are still coming.''

About 800 hatchery-origin chinook are available for harvest in the section of the Columbia opening this weekend. State biologists estimate a catch of about 700 fish for the weekend.

The biologists estimate 2,071 upper Columbia spring chinook are available for harvest downstream of Bonneville Dam.

In March, the bi-state Columbia River Recreational Advisory Group discussed adding spring chinook days on to the start of the summer chinook season on June 16.

That would allow for no break between the resumption of spring and summer chinook seasons.

The Columbia River Compact will meet at 10 a.m. June 13 at The River Room in Cathlamet to consider commercial fishing periods for summer chinook.