Tag Archives: columbia river compact

Columbia King Managers Decide Against 1-day Lower River Opener

Columbia fall Chinook managers today reduced the bag limit in the Hanford Reach to one but also passed on a lower river reopener in favor of giving gorge pools anglers continued access to this year’s run.

WDFW and ODFW staffers had recommended opening the big river from Buoy 10 to Bonneville this Saturday for fall kings after the URB component forecast was upgraded slightly, from 159,200 to 167,200.

COLUMBIA SALMON MANAGERS DECIDED AGAINST REOPENING THE LOWER RIVER FOR ONE DAY OF CHINOOK RETENTION. STEVE MEUCHEL AND KARI WILLARD CAUGHT THIS PAIR OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN ST. HELENS AREA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

That would have coincided with sturgeon retention (above Wauna) and was modeled to yield a catch of 950 kings.

It would also have taken upriver bright, or URB, catch-plus-release mortalities to 99 percent of what managers are allowing this season.

(The fishery was closed earlier this month three days early after exceeding the initial URB allocation for that runsize and stretch of water.)

But during a midafternoon conference call there was only mixed support for the one-day opener, with state sportfishing advisors in favor and the general public not.

Some didn’t have any appetite for all the days anglers would subsequently lose on the Columbia between Bonneville and Highway 395 in Tri-Cities, which would be forced to close much earlier than scheduled to provide the room for the lower reopener.

Dan Grogan of Fisherman’s Marine called that “absolutely ludicrous,” while others talked to issues of fairness and upriver anglers taking it in the shorts for lower fishermen’s opportunities in the past.

It would also cut into apparently better-than-is-being-let-on fishing in the pools, if images from Fish Camp this week and one advisor’s report are any indication.

The call also confirmed continuing concerns on two fronts: tule Chinook broodstock, and steelhead.

WDFW’s Bill Tweit warned that Drano Lake king catches were being watched very closely and it wasn’t clear how long the fishery would stay open.

Managers are worried about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Little White Salmon and Spring Creek Hatcheries collecting enough adult tules for spawning. While the latter facility is seeing good numbers, a lot are also jacks.

As for steelhead, the run has again been downgraded, the fourth time in the past few weeks, now to 69,200, with just 2,500 B-runs expected.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is meeting Friday and could shut down all fishing for steelhead on the Clearwater and much of the shared Snake, and Washington will likely follow suit, Tweit indicated.

WDFW and ODFW were also advised they needed to put out a statement directing anglers to not even catch-and-release steelhead in areas where they’ve been closed to retention due to the low return.

As for Hanford Reach URBs, with only 22,121 wild kings expected to spawn in the free-flowing section of the Columbia — well below the escapement goal of 31,100 — the daily limit will drop from two to one starting Friday, Sept. 20, WDFW announced this morning.

Even though the Reach and the Columbia from McNary downstream are managed under two different plans, it might not have looked very good to have allowed downriver fishermen to intercept 500 or so URBs needed up at Hanford as anglers there see their catch reduced.

In other Columbia Chinook news, yesterday tribal managers OKed six more days of commercial gillnetting in the gorge pools, which will bring the URB catch to 15,375 of the 38,456 available at current run sizes.

Columbia-Snake Steelhead Restrictions Tighten

Washington steelhead managers are tightening already restricted fisheries as this year’s A-run comes in below forecast.

HATCHERY STEELHEAD LIMITS ON WASHINGTON’S GRANDE RONDE AND OTHER STREAMS ARE BEING DROPPED TO ONE FOLLOWING A RUNSIZE DOWNGRADE. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Limits on hatchery fish are being reduced on a number of Blue Mountains streams, including the Walla Walla, Touchet, Tucannon, Snake and Grande Ronde, from three to one starting Sept. 1, per a bevy of WDFW emergency rule change notices out in late morning.

While the best fishing really isn’t until midfall, anglers will be required to quit steelheading once they’ve retained their daily limit.

There’s also a 28-inch maximum size on the Snake from its mouth up to the Couse Creek boat launch near the mouth of Hells Canyon in eastern Asotin County to protect a low return of larger B-runs.

It follows this week’s downgrade from 118,200 As and Bs expected back to now just 86,000.

A fact sheet out today says the decrease is mainly due to fin-clipped A-runs “tracking lower than forecast.”

ODFW and WDFW also extended the steelhead retention closure on the Columbia below The Dalles Dam through Sept. 30. It had been scheduled to reopen Sept. 1.

“Due to the recent run downgrade for upriver steelhead (primarily clipped A-Index fish), concerns exist regarding achieving hatchery broodstock needs,” the fact sheet states.

Inland Northwest steelhead returns have been struggling in recent years and managers have implemented a series of rolling closures going up the Columbia to protect the runs.

They’ve also closed fishing in the cool plume at the mouth of the Deschutes River, a thermal refuge where steelhead as well as salmon hunker to get out of the warmer Columbia.

The fact sheet says that the big river is running at 71 degrees, average over the past 10 years and down a degree since early August, and at about 116,000 cubic feet per second, or about 18,000 cfs lower than typical.

If there’s any good news, it’s that the forecast for unclipped/wild/natural-origin A- and B-run steelhead has dropped less sharply versus the preseason estimate, from 40,250 to 38,000, and that fall Chinook and coho returns so far at Bonneville Dam are “similar” and “consistent” with expectations.

The fact sheet states that king catches and release mortalities at Buoy 10 stayed within expectations during the keeper season, but staffers recommended that a planned nontreaty netting opener this week be rescinded because “it appears the majority of the URB sub-allocation planned preseason for August mainstem non-treaty commercial fisheries has been achieved” and managers did subsequently follow through on that.

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