Best spots for lower Columbia fall chinook
For the lack of a better term, we’ll call it the “biteability index,” or perhaps “encounter rate.” It’s simply the arithmetic showing what your chances were of catching a salmon or steelhead in the lower Columbia River for the first two weeks of September.
Washington and Oregon divide the Columbia River between Buoy 10 and Bonneville Dam into 10 sections for the purposes of sampling sport fishermen.
Our biteability-encounter percentage is simply adding all adult chinook, coho and steelhead — kept or released — and dividing it by the number of angler trips.
The numbers for Sept. 1 through 15 — prime chinook time in most of the lower Columbia — have been estimated and they show the best fishing from boats was at the mouth of the Cowlitz River, with a 78.8 percent chance of catching something.
This is not surprising.
Runner-up was the estuary, from the western tip of Wallace Island downstream to Buoy 10, with a 66.6 percent success rate. No. 3 was Kalama with a 58.7 percent success rate.
The rest of the rankings, in order, were the Columbia Gorge at 47.7 percent, Woodland at 47.1 percent, Longview at 31.7 percent, Vancouver (Lemon Island to Kelley Point) at 25.6 percent, Kelley Point to Warrior Rock at 24.3 percent and Camas-Washougal-Troutdale at 16.1 percent.
Having examined these numbers intermittently over several years, I’ve noticed that Camas-Washougal (specifically the eastern tip of Reed Island to the western tip of Lemon Island) almost always is the least productive stretch of the Columbia to pursue chinook.