2018 Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Spring Chinook Fishery Set

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE OREGON AND WASHINGTON DEPARTMENTS OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set spring Chinook salmon seasons for the Columbia River today during a joint state hearing.

SPRING CHINOOK ANGLERS PREPARE TO NET ONE ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The lower Columbia River recreational spring Chinook season will take place from Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, April 7 from Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock, plus bank angling from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.

Above Bonneville Dam, the recreational Chinook season was set for Friday, March 16 through Monday, May 7, with the open area extending from Bonneville Dam upstream to the OR/WA border above McNary Dam. Only bank angling is allowed from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Tower Island powerlines.

The daily bag limit is two adult salmonids (Chinook, coho, or steelhead), of which only one may be a Chinook. Only adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) fish may be retained.

The 2018 seasons are based on a forecast of 248,500 spring Chinook returning to the mouth of the Columbia River. That forecast includes an expected 166,700 spring Chinook bound for areas upstream of Bonneville Dam. This year’s run prediction is slightly larger than last year’s actual return of 208,800 spring Chinook.

Columbia River spring Chinook seasons are driven by guidelines on the number of upriver-origin Chinook that can be killed; therefore, season dates can change during the season if/when guidelines are met. The lower Columbia recreational season will start with an upriver Chinook guideline of 7,157 fish. For the area from Bonneville Dam upstream to the OR/WA border, the recreational guideline is 954 Chinook. The area of the Snake River downstream of the WA/ID border has a guideline of 920 Chinook; seasons will be set by Washington at a later date.

On the Willamette River, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers are forecasting a return of 53,800 adult Chinook, which is up from last year’s actual return of 50,800. Fishing for hatchery spring Chinook is allowed seven days a week on the Willamette.

For more information, refer to Columbia River regulation updates at myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone and e-regulations for permanent regulations

The following is a summary of spring recreational fishing seasons, including those adopted at today’s meeting.

CHINOOK SALMON

Columbia River mouth to Bonneville Dam

Prior to March 1, permanent rules for Chinook salmon, as outlined in the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

From March 1 through April 7, boat fishing will be allowed seven days a week from Buoy 10 at the Columbia River mouth upstream to Beacon Rock, which is located approximately four miles below Bonneville Dam. Bank fishing will be allowed during the same timeframe from Buoy 10 upstream to the fishing deadline at Bonneville Dam.

The daily bag limit will be two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon (Chinook or coho) or adipose fin-clipped steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook. The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day in Oregon.

Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington border

Prior to March 16, permanent rules for Chinook salmon and steelhead, as outlined in the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

Effective March 16 through May 7, this area will be open to retention of adipose fin-clipped Chinook. Fishing for salmon and steelhead from a boat is prohibited between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines, which are approximately six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.

The daily bag limit will be two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon (Chinook or coho) or adipose fin-clipped steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook. The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day in Oregon.

Select Area Recreational Fisheries

Permanent fishing regulations for recreational harvest in Oregon waters within Youngs Bay and Blind Slough/Knappa Slough are listed in the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

The use of barbed hooks is allowed when angling for salmon, steelhead, or trout in the Youngs Bay and Knappa/Blind Slough Select Areas.

Based on today’s action, effective March 1 through June 15, 2018 on days when the mainstem Columbia River below Bonneville Dam is open to recreational Chinook harvest, the daily adult salmon/steelhead bag limit in Select Area fishing sites will be the same as mainstem Columbia bag limits. On days when the mainstem Columbia is closed to Chinook retention, the permanent bag limits for Select Areas will apply.

Willamette River

Under permanent rules, the Willamette River remains open to retention of adipose fin-clipped adult Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead seven days a week.  The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day.

The use of barbed hooks is allowed when angling for salmon, steelhead, or trout in the Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls. From March 1 through August 15, 2018, use of two rods is allowed on the Willamette and Clackamas rivers with purchase of two-rod validation.

The bag limit on the Willamette below Willamette Falls is two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in combination. Above the falls, two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon and three adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be retained in the daily bag.

STEELHEAD & SHAD

Permanent rules for steelhead and shad are in effect, except for the following modifications:

Effective March 16 through May 15, 2018, the Columbia River will be open for retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead from Buoy 10 to the Highway 395 Bridge, and shad from Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam, ONLY during days and in areas open for retention of adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook. Beginning May 16 permanent rules resume as listed in the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

 WDFW

Salmon managers from Washington and Oregon have approved sportfishing seasons for spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River, setting the stage for the first major salmon fishery of the year.

Anglers are already catching a few spring chinook in the lower Columbia below the Interstate 5 bridge, but the bulk of the run usually doesn’t arrive until March when the new rules take effect.

According to the preseason forecast, approximately 248,500 spring chinook salmon will return to the Columbia River this year – an increase of 20 percent from 2017. That number includes 166,700 upriver fish bound for waters above Bonneville Dam and 81,820 fish expected to return to rivers below the dam.

Bill Tweit, a special assistant for Columbia River fisheries at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), noted that the upriver forecast is up 44 percent from last year, but still 10 percent below the 10-year average.

“This year’s fishery appears to be shaping up as a fairly normal season,” Tweit said. “Even so, we always have to take a conservative approach in setting fishing seasons until we can determine how many fish are actually moving past Bonneville Dam.”

Based on the preseason projections, the two states approved initial fishing seasons for waters both below and above the dam:

  • Below Bonneville Dam: Catch guidelines approved today allocate 6,680 upriver fish for a 38-day fishing season below Bonneville Dam from March 1 through April 7. The fishery will be open to both boat and bank anglers from Buoy 10 to Beacon Rock, and to bank anglers only upriver to the dam.
  • Above the dam: Spring chinook fishing will also be open March 16 through May 7 from the Tower Island power lines upriver to the Washington/Oregon border near Umatilla. The season will run for 53 days with an initial catch guideline of 900 upriver chinook. Bank fishing will also be allowed from the dam upriver to the power lines.

In both areas, the daily catch limit will be one adult hatchery chinook salmon, as part of a two-fish daily limit that can also include hatchery coho salmon and hatchery steelhead. Anglers fishing the Columbia River will be required to use barbless hooks, and must release any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin.

Tweit said this year’s initial catch guidelines include a 30 percent “buffer” in the preseason forecast to guard against overharvesting the run. If actual returns meet or exceed expectations, fish held in reserve will become available for harvest later in the season, he said.

Fishery managers will likely meet in May – when half the run has historically passed Bonneville Dam – to determine if this year’s fishing season can be extended.

To participate in this fishery, anglers age 15 and older must possess a valid fishing license. In addition, anglers fishing upriver from Rocky Point must purchase a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries.

Additional information about fishing rules in effect during the upcoming spring chinook season is posted on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

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