OLYMPIA — Most of the Columbia River will close to all recreational salmon and steelhead fishing beginning Thursday, Sept. 26, state fishery managers have announced.
The closure comes at the tail end of a challenging year on the Columbia that saw low returns for many salmon and steelhead runs, said Bill Tweit, special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Despite those challenges, fishery managers still expect to meet conservation goals laid out at the beginning of the year.
“Despite record low numbers of summer steelhead, and poor ocean conditions, we have worked hard to offer meaningful fall Chinook fisheries in the Columbia, both above and below Bonneville,” Tweit said. “Offering those opportunities while meeting conservation guidelines is always a difficult balancing act, and one that we take very seriously.”
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon will have to reduce the Columbia River commercial harvest to account for the number of upriver bright Chinook caught during the fall season.
Buoy 10, at the mouth of the Columbia River, will remain open to recreational anglers for coho retention.
“The Buoy 10 fishery has a negligible impact on the number of Chinook making their way upriver, and is still providing good opportunity for coho,” Tweit said.
The closure extends from a line projected from Rocky Point on the Washington bank through Red Buoy 44 to navigation marker 2 at Tongue Point on the Oregon bank, upstream to Highway 395 in Pasco. The Hanford Reach salmon fishery will remain open as it is not affected by this rule change.
Steelhead fishing will also close in these same areas, as the upriver steelhead run size is below forecast, and several hatchery programs within the Snake and Clearwater river basins are projected to fall short of broodstock collection goals.
The Buoy 10 fishing zone starts inside the mouth of the Columbia River about one mile from the ocean and is defined by a line that runs through the actual red buoy #10 and extends approximately 20 miles upriver to a deadline that runs from Tongue Point on the Oregon side of the river to Rocky Point on the Washington side.
For more information, see the 2019-20 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet or view the rule changes at WDFW’s emergency rules website: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/erules/