With the lower Yakima running as hot as the ocean off Maui in recent days and preventing sockeye from migrating upstream, state managers are closing the Columbia at Tri-Cities to salmon fishing.
The closure begins Monday and affects the big river between the Highway 395 and I-182 bridges through Aug. 15.
WDFW says the thermal block makes sockeye bound for the upper Yakima Basin more “vulnerable to over harvest” as they stage in the cooler waters of the Columbia waiting for temperatures in their natal stream to drop.
The Yakama Nation has been working to restore sockeye runs in the watershed.
It’s the first warm water closure in Washington this year and follows on a hoot owl restriction on a portion of Oregon’s North Umpqua announced yesterday and closures around tribs on parts of the mainstem Umpqua that went into effect in July.
According to a Department of Ecology statewide conditions report sent out yesterday, the Yakima at Prosser has “often exceeded 80 degrees during the month of July — similar to conditions found off shore of the Hawaiian Islands.”
A USGS gauge shows the river at the Kiona station hit more than 86 degrees July 27.
DOE reports that water temps from 73 to 77 “are considered lethal.”
The last time it was so hot that Northwest fishery managers were forced to restrict angling was during the summer of 2015, at the height of The Blob, but according to DOE, 12 of the 30 hottest daily readings at Prosser recorded since 1990 happened last month.