2013 Columbia River Spring Chinook season set

Columbia River Spring Chinook

Guide Lance Fisher with a client and his Columbia River Spring Chinook

It’s with great anticipation that we await the winter meeting that sets the years Columbia River Spring Chinook season.  And although early forecasts have the run down compared to the 10 year average, excitement is never down on one of the years best fisheries.

After last years run was severely under estimated, many wonder if this years forecast is simply a more conservative minded estimation of this years stocks.  The treaty tribes were very loud with their disapproval of the handling of last years returns and it’s hard not to imagine that Oregon and Washington fisheries managers aren’t just a little hesitant to put their necks out there again.

141,000 fish are expected to return to the Columbia River and fisheries managers are hoping that the sportfishing fleet will be able to fish until April 5th.  The season is open immediately, 7 days a week, but managers will close the river March 26th and April 2nd to make way for gillnet seasons.

Water conditions contribute greatly to success and to this point, it’s hard to tell what snowpack and the subsequent flows of the Columbia River will look like.  The last few years has seen huge flows making fishing conditions very difficult even with good returns.  Lighter flows tend to allow for better harvest so even with reduced numbers, even average flows would still translate into relatively good fishing.

Although a handful of fish have already been caught, don’t expect big numbers to start hitting the deck until the end of March.  The best fishing of the year nearly always happens that last week of the season, so make sure theirs still gas in the tank when they really do arrive.

Check out my conversation on Good Fishing Radio with the ODFW’s Steve Williams.


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Lance Fisher is a Columbia River Spring Chinook Guide and Host of the NW Outdoor Show in Oregon and Washington and Good Fishing Radio on Fishwire.net.