UPDATE: Upper Columbia River sockeye fishery remains open through Sunday and action remains decent especially in mornings Leave a reply

Jul 13, 2021 by Mark Yuasa

By Mark Yuasa

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to keep the entire Upper Columbia River open for sockeye fishing through this Sunday (July 18).

Despite the impending closure the chinook fishery on Columbia River mainstem from Hanford Reach upstream to Brewster will remain open through Aug. 15, and regulations will switch to sockeye non-retention.

Fishing has been fair to good at times for summer chinook from Chelan Falls up to Wells Dam, and the Brewster area really started to gain steam this past weekend for a mix of mainly sockeye peppered with some chinook with the morning bite dominating most of the action.

“I fished this morning and we couldn’t keep the sockeye off our gear,” said Austin Moser, owner of Austin’s Northwest Adventures LLC. “I went back out later in the morning and it slowed down. There was no wind, the water was flat calm and it got really hot which could’ve affected the fish from biting better.”

The preseason sockeye forecast was 155,600, but late last week it was downgraded to 149,600 that puts the sport fishery in a slightly lower harvest rate.

WDFW staff says this isn’t so much a conservation risk nor dealing with quotas, but a mutual agreement between state and tribal fishery managers to ensure enough sockeye make it back to meet spawning goals and fair mutual harvest between co-managers.

Through Monday (July 12) the upper river harvest was 3,500 sockeye, and areas below Priest Rapids Dam was 2,300, which puts the remaining balance around 1,000.

Between July 1-6, the upper river sport harvest total was 1,200, and then from July 7-11 it increased to 2,300 with the bulk of the catch occurring at Brewster.

In the Hanford Reach area (opened June 16) there have been 6,619 angler trips with 1,760 sockeye, 65 adult hatchery summer chinook, and 58 jack chinook harvested plus 25 wild adult summers caught and released.

Fish counts at Bonneville Dam have decreased in recent days with 141,149 sockeye and 65,732 summer chinook tallied for the season. At Rocky Reach the total is 38,688 sockeye and 22,914 summer chinook, and at Wells Dam it is 41,509 sockeye and 11,991 summer chinook.

The good news is WDFW creel checkers, fishing guides and anglers report seeing an abundant number of smaller 12- to 14-inch sockeye that are considered jack salmon, which potentially bodes well for a strong return in the summer of 2022.

“It’s not a grand slam for sockeye, but a good indicator of what we might see next year,” a WDFW staff member pointed out.

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