ILWACO — Columbia River salmon and steelhead sport fisheries will reopen Jan. 1 from Buoy 10 to State Route 395 in Pasco, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said last week.

Fall fisheries in 2018 were closed in the Columbia after the fall Chinook catch exceeded allowable impacts under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Fall Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam fell far short — only 31 percent — of the number anticipated pre-season.

ESA impacts remain a possibility even now, as anglers might inadvertently kill naturally spawning salmon. But beginning Jan. 1, winter steelhead and spring chinook seasons begin, and fall Chinook are no longer considered to be present.

Most Columbia tributaries remain open for salmon and steelhead fishing, but anglers should check for emergency fishing rule changes before heading out.

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