The Buoy 10 recreational retention fishery on the Columbia River got off to a strong start Tuesday morning.
By 10:30 a.m., fishermen had only brought back eight fish to the Hammond Marina, according to Oregon Fish and Wildlife employees at the docks, but two of those salmon measured 36 inches long and weighed in at well over 20 pounds. Fishermen reported seeing dozens of salmon in the water, especially on the Washington state side near the Astoria Bridge. Humpback whales also foraged nearby, following runs of anchovies.
Fishing guide Tom Burgess of Bigulp Guide Service said his first clients of the day caught their limit early. He even got a chance to fish, as well.
“It’s a robust start,” he said. “I hope it’s a sign of things to come.”
The opening days of the Buoy 10 fishery, which runs from the mouth of the Columbia River to Tongue Point, can start off with a bang, but sometimes slow down before building up toward the middle of the month. Records maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife showed 58 boats on the water on Aug. 1 last year. There were 137 anglers trying for fish but only four Chinook kept. By Aug. 13, there were 137 boats on the Columbia River, 399 anglers and 70 Chinook kept.
Chinook are usually the first salmon to make an appearance in the fishery, followed later in the month by coho.
“We’re not going to have those huge numbers of fall Chinook we had in the past up until last year,” said Ron Roler, Columbia River fishery manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
He has every reason to think the Buoy 10 fishery will be good this year despite a less than stellar spring season on the river. A combined total of nearly a million coho and Chinook salmon are expected to come up the river this summer and fall.
However, a smaller-than-expected return of steelhead will restrict anglers this year, as fishery managers roll out the fishery in such a way as to protect those fish.
Warrenton Harbormaster Jane Sweet and her crew have spent the days leading up to the Buoy 10 opener getting the Warrenton and Hammond marinas ready for the heavy traffic that will continue throughout the month of August. “You name it, we’re doing it,” Sweet said. The Hammond Marina, especially, takes a beating this time of year.
All the slips are full, both for annual and monthly leases at the Hammond Marina.
The Buoy 10 fishery will continue through August.