DEEP RIVER - Anglers planning to fish on the Lower Columbia River now have a new place to launch their boats.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently leased a new boat launch site on Deep River in Wahkiakum County to serve anglers fishing for sturgeon, salmon and other species in the Columbia River estuary.

The new site, called Lori's Launch, is open to the boating public at no charge, seven days per week. It is located near the end of Waranka Road, about half a mile south of State Route 4 off Miller Point Road.

Chuck Leidy, WDFW regional lands agent, said Lori's Launch is less than a quarter mile upriver from a private launch site on Oneida Road that closed last year. Sturgeon anglers, in particular, had relied on the private launch site for many years, he said.

"We received a lot of calls from anglers concerned about the loss of the only launch site on that stretch of the river," Leidy said. "It's more than 10 miles downstream to the launch in Chinook or upstream to Skamokawa, which translates to a lot of gas consumption either way."

Lori's Launch also has some advantages over the old site on Oneida Road, including a bigger parking lot, a gravel launch "and water deep enough to launch bigger boats," Leidy said.

WDFW is leasing the 31-acre site from Lori Fanoni, a Naselle property owner whom Leidy credited with cleaning up the 31-acre property, once a dumpsite and wrecking yard.

"Ms. Fanoni did a remarkable job of making this site usable," Leidy said. "Not only did she dispose of hundreds of cubic yards of trash and debris, but she restored the area wetland. It only seemed right to name the launch site after her."

Leidy said WDFW will assess the need for further improvements on the boat launch, and may seek to secure adjacent wetlands for waterfowl and fish habitat. He cautions users of the boat launch to avoid driving vehicles into the wetland area.

Leidy invites boaters with questions about the launch site to contact him at 360-906-6721 in Vancouver.

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