July 27th, 2012
The first meeting of the Columbia River Compact for the fall fishing season was held at the River Street Room in Cathlamet, Washington on Thursday, July 26, commencing at 10:00 a.m. The preseason forecasts for the early and later fall seasons hold some promise for a fall Chinook season similar to that of 2011, in which large numbers of upriver bright (URB) fall Chinook were available for harvest. On the other hand, the forecast for coho is for a poor return, slightly more than half of the 10-year average. The most constraining stocks for the fall season will be lower river hatchery (LRH) fall Chinook and lower Columbia natural (LRN) coho. LRH Chinook stocks are tule fall Chinook, as opposed to bright stocks returning to some other parts of the Columbia River basin. Tules transform to spawning form soon after they enter fresh water, and thus are less valuable to the in-river commercial fishery than the bright stocks. Tules are, however, the bread and butter of ocean fisheries and the popular Buoy 10 sport fishery, because they readily bite, and can easily be targeted by hook-an-line fisheries.
Similar to the 2011 fishery, the fall Chinook season is structured to minimize LRH impacts by holding only one commercial fishing opener in commercial fishing Zones 1-5 early in August, with the remainder of the fall Chinook season confined to commercial fishing Zones 4 & 5.The lower deadline of Zone 4 is at Warrior Rock Lighthouse, opposite the mouth of the Lewis River in southwest Washington. Warrior Rock is near the downstream end of Sauvie Island, adjacent to St. Helens, Oregon. (See Mainstem Fishing Zones and Descriptions below.) Fishermen also should be aware of the refinement of the lower deadline of Zone 4 adopted for the 2011 fishery, which is in effect again for the 2012 season.
At this time, it is expected that the limited coho impacts available in-river will only be enough to access as incidental catch in the URB-directed fall Chinook fishery. Should there be a “rollover” of unused impacts from the ocean and Buoy 10 fisheries, there may be one or two coho-directed openers in Zones 1-3 in October.
Fall Fact Sheet No. 1a and the subsequent Compact/Joint State Action Notice are appended as PDF files, in addition to the Mainstem Fishing Zone Map and Descriptions.