COLUMBIA ESTUARY - Beginning this past Saturday (Aug. 24), anglers in the Buoy 10 sport fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River were restricted to one Chinook salmon as part of their two-fish limit. Washington and Oregon fish managers reduced the Chinook limit to one fish limit to allow Chinook sport fishing to remain open at least until Labor Day. The limit size for Chinook will remain unchanged at 24 inches. The Buoy 10 season for coho will remain open indefinitely.
As of Aug. 18, an estimated 7,700-plus Chinook were caught in an estimated 31,500 angler trips in the Buoy 10 Area. Tony Floor, a WDFW recreational fishing official said, "All signals look like the run is on the late side." He noted that the water temperature at Buoy 10 was 67 degrees, and speculated that a good hard rain and rise in flows would, as is typical, bring more fish in. The fish that are going on the "bite" are huge, with some in the 40- to 45-pound range. The current leading fish (Chinook) for the $1,000 First Prize in the Ilwaco Salmon Derby is 36.61 lbs. dressed.
The fall Chinook returning to the Columbia River are projected to total 659,800 fish this year, the third largest return on record. Stocks protected under federal Endangered Species Act are mingled with hatchery-produced fish in the returning run constraining fisheries on the river.
The catch of Chinook salmon has fallen off sharply in the last few days and fishery managers are taking a "second look" at the situation. Be assured that plenty of outstanding fishing is still to be "had" in both the river and in the ocean.
The ocean coho season is scheduled to run till Sept. 30. Many large coho 10-15 pounds are now being taken in the ocean. The largest coho checked in at the Ilwaco Derby Booth has been 15 lbs., 9 ounces (dressed) and they are only going to get bigger. According to fish biologists, the coho are putting on about one-pound per week.
Plan your trips now to take advantage of the peak Buoy 10 and ocean fisheries.