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News / Sports / Outdoors

Field notes: Columbia spring Chinook season extended 4 days; next clam digs set

By Columbian news services
Published: April 6, 2024, 6:04am

Spring Chinook fishing in the lower Columbia River will continue through Tuesday, April 9, as Washington and Oregon officials added four days of angling time.

“Catch rates have been low, which allowed us to add additional fishing time,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fisheries manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “This fishing opportunity provides immediate access at a time we can accurately anticipate catches while also ensuring a conservative approach until we get a run size update in May.”

Through Sunday, only about 1,000 adult spring Chinook had been harvested despite 23,500 angler trips, slow fishing to say the least. The sport fishery had used only 14 percent of its allowance of upper Columbia-Snake origin spring Chinook.

State biologists project about 40 percent of the allowance will be taken through Friday, when the season was scheduled to end.

Spring Chinook fishing between the Tower Island power lines near The Dalles and the Washington-0regon border east of Umatilla, Ore., opened April 1 and is scheduled to run through May 2. The Bonneville Dam count through Thursday was 164 adult spring Chinook.

Seven days of clam digs begin Monday, April 8

Razor clam diggers can look forward to more digging opportunities on coastal beaches beginning Monday, April 8.

“April digs are finally here, and hopefully they come with milder weather and sunnier days,” said Bryce Blumenthal, a WDFW coastal shellfish biologist. “The best low tides in April fall during the middle of this next digging series with weekend tides that should still provide ample harvest opportunity.”

Not all coastal beaches are open for every dig, so diggers are encouraged to make sure their intended destination is open before heading out. Optimal digging occurs between one and two hours before the listed time of low tide.

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The following April 8-14 digs will proceed as scheduled, after marine toxin results from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) showed razor clams are safe to eat.

Confirmed dates during morning (midnight to noon, except until 1 p.m. on April 13-14) low tides:

April 8, Monday, 6:44 a.m.; -0.5 feet; Mocrocks

April 9, Tuesday, 7:29 am.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks

April 10, Wednesday, 8:14 a.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

April 11, Thursday, 9:00 a.m., -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

April 12, Friday, 9:48 a.m., -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

April 13, Saturday, 10:40 a.m., -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks (digging extended until 1 p.m.)

April 14, Sunday, 11:38 a.m., 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Copalis (digging extended until 1 p.m.)

On all open beaches, the daily limit is 15 clams per person. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container, and all diggers must keep the first 15 clams they dig, regardless of size or condition.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach.

The DOH requires test samples for marine toxins, and domoic acid levels must fall under the guideline level before a beach can open for digging. Upcoming tentative dates during morning low tides are April 23-29 and May 6-12.

Shellfish and seafood enthusiasts can also start making plans to attend the Long Beach Razor Clam Festival on May 10-11. This long-running event celebrates the unique contribution of razor clams to Washington’s culture and coastal communities.

Young spring Chinook lost in truck accident

Slightly more than 25,000 young spring Chinook salmon died in late March when an Oregon fish tanker truck skidded on its side and went over a rocky embankment along Lookingglass Creek, a tributary of the Grande Ronde River.

About 77,000 of the young hatchery-origin Chinook made it into the creek, but about 25,500 died and their carcasses were recovered either in the tanker or on the stream bank.

The driver, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employee, received minor injuries.

Lookingglass Hatchery raises spring Chinook as part of hydropower mitigation under the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan, for tribal and sport harvest, and to supplement the wild population on the Imnaha which is listed as threatened.

The smolts lost represent about 20 percent of the total that will be released into the Imnaha River this year. Fishery managers expect to see about 500 to 900 fewer adult fish returning in 2026 and 2027 due to the loss. The 77,000 fish that made it into Lookingglass Creek will likely return there and produce approximately 350 to 700 additional adults.

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