Expanded fishery at Wind River mouth gets another try

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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HOME VALLEY — Expanding the spring chinook fishing area at the mouth of Wind River in 2012 did not substantially increase the catch of salmon from other Columbia River tributaries.

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife report says the catch at the mouth of the Wind was 92.4 percent spring chinook originating from Carson or Little White Salmon national fish hatcheries.

That compares to a 2005-2011 average of 97.4 percent.

Spring chinook season opens Monday at the mouth of Wind River, with the boundary buoys at the same location as 2012 to provide more fishing water.

Siltation from Wind River gradually has been filling in the mouth of the river for years. The state moved the buoys marking the boundary last year to relieve crowding and provide a more enjoyable experience.

It is estimated 3,000 spring chinook were caught at the mouth of Wind River in 2012. An analysis of coded-wire tags taken from sampled fish indicate 2,772 (92.4 percent) were from Carson or Little White Salmon hatcheries.

Carson National Fish Hatchery is on the upper Wind River. Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery is a few miles east on the lower Little White Salmon River.

Spring chinook headed for Idaho’s Rapid River numbered 146 (4.9 percent). Salmon headed for other tributaries included 30 for McCall hatchery on Idaho’s Salmon River, 18 from Cle Elum hatchery on the Yakima River, 12 for Round Butte hatchery on Oregon’s Deschutes River, 11 for Lookingglass hatchery on Oregon’s Grande Ronde River and six from each the Hood and Warm Springs rivers.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife received $33,000 from the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Recreational Advisory Board to pay for extensive sampling of Wind River anglers in 2012 and is getting another $27,500 in 2013.

A subpar run of 3,000 spring chinook is forecast to the Wind River this year. That compares with 5,400 in 2012, 7,800 in 2011 and 10,000 in 2010.

The fishing opener was delayed two weeks from the normal March 16 start and the limit will be one hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead, not two.

Anglers will be limited to one rod. Two rods were allowed in May and June in 2012. No fishing upstream of Shipherd Falls is anticipated this spring.

Carson hatchery needs 1,500 spring chinook for spawning.