Spring Chinook anglers can chase their quarry again this Saturday, April 14, on the Columbia below Bonneville Dam.
State salmon managers made the decision to reopen the fishery yesterday afternoon after a very long conference call. Official rule-change notices haven’t been posted at this point, but here’s where to find ODFW’s and WDFW’s.
They had initially proposed two days, the second being Wednesday, April 18, but there was quite a bit of pushback from upstream recreational and tribal fishing interests as well as from a higher-up at WDFW, according to Bill Monroe reporting in The Oregonian.
A fact sheet that came out before the meeting said that through April 7, anglers had accounted for 3,680 of the 7,157 available upriver mortalities, leaving 51 percent of the catch allocation at the 30 percent buffered runsize still available.
The forecast calls for 166,700 springers bound for tribs beyond Bonneville.
But this year’s return is coming in very sluggishly, with the tally breaking the triple-digit mark 20 days later than the 10-year average and the overall count of 125 through April 11 still the lowest on record for this same point of the run.
The Columbia has been running “slightly lower, colder, and clearer than recent 5-year averages for the first half of April,” managers reported.
Still, those are highly fishable conditions — at least if you’re not a plunker. Boaters have accounted for most of the catch.
“Given an available balance on the pre-season, buffered allocation of upriver spring Chinook(3,477 fish balance), there is potential for additional angling opportunity,” the fact sheet stated.
It’s unclear how the rest of the 2018 springer run will proceed, but two things are for certain:
“Enjoy Saturday fishing, and in the meantime we will work hard to have a hearing to review the impacts as soon as is reasonable after the one day reopener,” read an email blast from the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association out last night.