North Fork Lewis gets huge fall chinook return

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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More than 30,000 wild fall chinook salmon are spawning in the North Fork of the Lewis River this year, more than five times the escapement goal.

Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said field crews need two to three days a week instead of the normal one day to conduct the annual spawning survey.

The spawning goal is 5,700 adult salmon.

Roler said the North Fork Lewis fall chinook are a bright, wild stock, produced downstream of Merwin Dam.

The big number of spawners is partly a result of sport and commercial fishing regimes in the lower Columbia in the fall of 2013.

Gillnetting was limited to upstream of the mouth of the Lewis River this fall, so the chinook were not subject to significant commercial harvest.

Since the Lewis River fall chinook are a wild stock, they are not fin-clipped.

Black Friday trout — Four Southwest Washington waters will be stocked with trout for Black Friday and the weekend.

Battle Ground Lake and Klineline Pond in Clark County, Rowland Lake in Klickitat County and Kress Lake in Cowlitz County all are closed Monday through Thursday, then reopen Nov. 29.

Each will be planted with 2,000 rainbow averaging about 1.25 pounds.

“Last year’s Black Friday event was very successful,’’ said Chris Donley, inland lakes program manager for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We decided to repeat it.’’

Donley said the goal is to increase year-round trout fishing in Western Washington.