Fish & Feathers: River conditions still rattle sturgeon fishermen

The charter boat Coho King, probably the most successful sturgeon boat in the Ilwaco fleet, searches for sturgeon above the Astoria Bridge.

Columbia River conditions from Tongue Point west are proving a real test for sturgeon fishermen. 

High waters on the entire Lower Columbia River are no better, as tugboat operators report dangerous conditions at several spots on the river. Tugs pushing barges up and down the river have to be particularly careful coming downriver, where their speed has been extended 4 to 5 knots by the river’s surge. High-water conditions have created back eddies for smaller recreational boats in coves. Logs and debris washed off the riverbanks are creating a real hazard for anchored boats.

It is recommended that recreational boaters wear life jackets at all times when on the river. Conditions are not likely to change soon. As the weather gets warmer and the snow-pack starts to melt, watch out.

Some of the best sturgeon fishermen in the charter boat fleet are singing the blues, as the fish are not cooperating and limits are few. Last week, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that at Chinook/Ilwaco, 101 private boat anglers brought in 11 legal fish, released 15 subs and 10 oversized. 

Bottom fish are carrying the load for many charter boats, where limits are the rule for boats operating off the Washington coast out of Ilwaco.

One six-pack charter boat moored in Ilwaco had its fuel siphoned out of its tanks. The Port of Ilwaco has always had a problem with security (or the lack of it). During the past year, I personally know about steering wheels, bilge pumps, radios, steps and a boat stolen from the harbor. The port needs more video surveillance cameras.


WDFW mapping system

If you have a computer, go to the WDFW website and click on “PHS” or go to to get to the site. You can scan anywhere in the state of Washington. For instance, if you want to travel the Columbia River, you can punch in Ilwaco and travel all the way up the Columbia by touching the arrows for the direction you wish to go. It may take you a little time to become familiar with the site, but it’s well worth it.


Cattlemen versus wolves

Cattlemen and hunting groups contend that the Washington plan for restoring wolves in the state still allows for too many wolves. Today, there are an estimated 25 wolves and three wolf packs. Additional wolves may exist in central and eastern Washington. 

Conservationists say landowners shouldn’t be allowed to kill a wolf caught attacking a domestic dog. Yeah, right! 

To further complicate matters, a Methow Valley ranching family has been charged in federal court for killing several endangered wolves and the attempt to mail at least one of the pelts to Canada in a bloody box. Ranchers Bill White and his son, Tom, live in the Twisp area in Okanogan County.

Phone Ron Malast at 665-3573 or email

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