Expansion of fishing area for fall chinook in the Snake and Columbia rivers
Action: The area open for harvest of fall chinook in the Snake River is extended to include the lower Snake River from the mouth to the Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco and that portion of the Columbia River defined as the Snake River Confluence Protection Area.
Locations: Waters of the Columbia River from the railroad bridge between Burbank and Kennewick upstream approximately 2.1 miles to the first powerline crossing upstream of the navigation light on the point of Sacajawea State Park, and the Snake River from the mouth to the Oregon State line (located approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).
Dates: Sept. 23 through Oct. 31, 2013.
Species affected: Chinook salmon.
Reason for action: The Columbia River in-season forecast for returning upriver bright fall chinook has been upgraded to 832,500. Estimates based on PIT tag expansions from returning chinook suggest that over 50,000 fall chinook may return to the Snake River this fall. Significant steelhead fisheries also occur in the area and hatchery fall chinook are expected to be caught during steelhead fishing. Retention of hatchery fall chinook, and the expansion of the fishery area to include the Snake River Confluence Protection Area, is not expected to exceed allowable impacts on ESA listed wild fall chinook. Therefore, adipose clipped hatchery fall chinook that are caught can be retained in the Snake River Confluence Protection Area and in the Snake River.
Other Information: The Snake River from Highway 12 near Pasco upstream to the Oregon State border remains open. The salmon daily harvest limit in the Snake River Confluence Protection Area, and the Washington portion of the Snake River, including the boundary water between Idaho and Washington is three (3) adipose fin-clipped chinook adults (24 inches in length and larger), and six (6) adipose fin-clipped jack chinook (less than 24 inches). Minimum size for chinook that can be retained in the Snake River is 12 inches.
Harvest of hatchery chinook (adults and jacks) is allowed seven days per week. Anglers must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead for the day once they have retained three (3) hatchery steelhead – regardless of whether the salmon daily limit has been retained. Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River Confluence Protection Area and in the Snake River. Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because returning unmarked chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery. Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2013 / 2014 Fishing in Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, etc.
Angler catch rates will be monitored and Washington Snake River salmon harvest opportunities may be closed prior to Oct. 31 based upon on-going run size and harvest evaluations.