Sport fishermen will get an additional three weeks to get out and catch a chinook salmon on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam under a season extension approved this week by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington.

During a joint state hearing fish and wildlife officials from the two states decided to reopen the spring chinook season on the lower Columbia from Saturday through June 15. The extended spring season takes place for three weeks immediately prior to the summer chinook season, which is scheduled on the lower Columbia from June 16 through June 30.

“We’re pleased to be able to provide five weeks of uninterrupted chinook salmon fishing,” said Steve Williams, deputy administrator of ODFW’s fish division.

The joint state action is based on revised estimates of salmon returns and harvest data that showed an additional 1,357 upriver spring chinook salmon are available for sport fishermen to harvest in the lower Columbia, based on management guidelines established earlier in the year. The revised forecast shows an expected return of 107,500 upriver spring chinook, which is down from the preseason estimate of 141,400 chinook.

“We have fewer fish than expected at the beginning of the year but the harvest was also lower than anticipated so we have some extra fish to catch,” said John North, ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program manager.

The season opens from Tongue Point up to the deadline at Bonneville Dam with only bank angling allowed from Beacon Rock to Bonneville. Above Bonneville Dam, the chinook season remains closed until the summer season opens June 16 to July 31 because most of the spring chinook quota was used prior to the May 6 closure. .

The daily bag limit prior to June 16 is two adult salmonids per day, of which only one may be a chinook. Any sockeye salmon caught must be released unharmed. Only barbless hooks are allowed.

In a separate action last week, the states approved four days of white sturgeon retention fishing in the Bonneville Pool. Those seasons will take place June 14 and 15 and June 21 and 22. The bag limit is one white sturgeon per day and two for the year. Only sturgeon with fork lengths of 38 to 54 inches may be retained, and only barbless hooks may be used.

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