THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE WASHINGTON AND OREGON DEPARTMENTS OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
WDFW: Starting Thursday (Sept. 13), fishing for salmon will be closed on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to Hwy 395 in Pasco under new rules approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
Deep River in Washington and other tributaries in Oregon (Youngs Bay, Tongue Point/South Channel, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough) are also closed to salmon and steelhead angling.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) already prohibited steelhead retention in much of the same area of the Columbia River several weeks ago, and the new emergency rule closes angling for both salmon and steelhead in those waters as well.
Bill Tweit, Columbia River fishery coordinator for WDFW, said the counts of fall chinook at Bonneville Dam are 29 percent below preseason forecasts, and on-going fisheries are approaching the allowable catch limits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“We recognize that this closure is difficult for anglers, but we have an obligation to meet our ESA goals so that fisheries can continue in the future,” he said.
Tweit said the upriver fall chinook run provides the bulk of the harvest opportunity for fall fisheries, but that returns in recent years has been declining due to unfavorable ocean conditions. The preseason forecast for this year is 47 percent of the 10-year average return of upriver bright fall chinook.
The new emergency fishing rule is posted on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
ODFW: With fall Chinook salmon returns to the Columbia River tracking well below preseason predictions, fishery managers announced today the Columbia River from the mouth at Buoy 10 to the Hwy 395 Bridge near Pasco, Washington will close for angling and retention of all salmon and steelhead at 12:01 am Thursday, Sept. 13.
As of Sept. 10, a total of 105,795 adult fall Chinook had passed Bonneville Dam, 75 percent of expectations based on preseason forecasts. The upriver bright Chinook return, which includes ESA-listed Snake River fish, are currently projected to return at 69 percent of expectations which means if left open fisheries could exceed the allowable harvest rate. In response, Oregon and Washington managers decided today to close all salmon fisheries until further notice.
According to Tucker Jones, ODFW Columbia River Program manager, if the return continues on this track, this could be the lowest fall Chinook return to the mouth of the Columbia since 2007. “2018 is a pretty bad year for Columbia River salmon returns,” said Jones, “Except for upper Columbia sockeye most runs will come in at 30 percent or less of pre-season forecast.”
Steelhead fishing closed on the Columbia River Aug. 27, also due to poor returns, and will also remain closed until further notice