OLYMPIA — Anglers will have an opportunity to fish for spring Chinook salmon in the Lower Columbia River this Saturday, April 14, for one day only under an agreement reached Wednesday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
Fishing regulations will be the same as those in effect before the initial Chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam closed April 7 for a fishery assessment.
Under those rules, anglers can retain one adult hatchery Chinook salmon as part of a daily limit of two adult fish that can also include hatchery coho salmon and hatchery steelhead. Boat anglers can fish from Buoy 10 up to Beacon Rock, while bank anglers can fish all the way up to Bonneville Dam.
All anglers fishing the Columbia River are required to use barbless hooks, and must release any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin.
Bill Tweit, a fishery manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the one-day fishery this Saturday is designed in part as a “make-up day” for the last Saturday of the initial opener, when stormy weather kept many anglers off the water.
Tweit said fishery managers from both states are taking a cautious approach to extending the fishery given the low number of spring Chinook observed passing up the fish ladders to date at Bonneville Dam.
“We’re taking this a step at a time,” Tweit said. “We know more fish are moving into the river, but we need to see signs of higher numbers of fish passing the dam before we consider reopening the fishery again.”
According to the preseason forecast, approximately 166,700 upriver spring Chinook salmon are expected to return to the Columbia River this year. Based on that forecast, fishery managers set an initial catch guideline of 7,157 upriver Chinook for the sport fishery below the dam, but so far anglers have caught only about half that many fish.
“If the run meets or exceeds expectations, we can give anglers more time to fish below the dam,” Tweit said. “But right now, we need to make sure we can meet conservation requirements and our obligations to fisheries farther upriver.”
Anglers age 15 and older are required to have a valid 2018-19 fishing license to fish in Washington state waters. A Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement is also required to fish for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River or its tributaries.