Buoy 10 chinook season to continue through Sunday

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Retention of fin-clipped fall chinook in this year's exceptional Buoy 10 salmon season at the mouth of the Columbia River will continue as scheduled through Sunday.

Washington and Oregon officials agreed Tuesday that chinook angling at Buoy 10 can continue and remain within federal Endangered Species Act guidelines.

Buoy 10 is the name given to the late-summer salmon sport fishery between Buoy No. 10 where the Columbia meets the Pacific Ocean and a line 16 miles upstream stretching between Tongue Point in Oregon and Rocky Point in Washington.

Angling opened Aug. 1 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook. The chinook could be of hatchery origin — denoted by a clipped adipose fin — or wild.

High catch rates caused the states to change the rules on Aug. 20 to hatchery-only chinook beginning Aug. 23 to try to extend the season to the scheduled end on Sept. 1.

Through Aug. 22, the catch was 16,252 chinook. Catches were good over the weekend with 6,824 chinook handled and 2,892 chinook kept.

John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the harvest (catch plus release mortalities) is 19,891 chinook.

He said catch projections for Monday through Sunday are another 5,341 chinook, bringing the season total to 25,232 chinook, including release mortalities.

Coho catches are improving, North said.

The coho catch through Sunday is estimated at 4,048 fish, which is 31 percent of the 13,100 coho set aside for Buoy 10.

Beginning Monday, the daily bag limit at Buoy 10 will be two hatchery coho.

Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, said it appears most anglers planning to fish at Buoy 10 remained in the area despite the switch to hatchery-only chinook.

"That is a positive thing,'' said Steve Williams, an assistant administrator of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "I'm glad the fishery has worked out. It's provided a lot of opportunity.''

Net season — Gillnetting will be allowed from Woodland to Beacon Rock from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 2 a.m. Thursday. The commercial fleet is expected to catch 6,500 chinook and 65 sturgeon.