Tag Archives: snake river

Most Of Washington Snake Closing For Steelhead; Chinook Fisheries Also Reduced

Washington fishery managers shut down steelheading on most of the state’s Snake and modified fall Chinook seasons on the river, all to protect low numbers of wild and hatchery B-runs bound for Idaho.

The changes take effect tomorrow, Sept. 29.

SNAKE STEELHEAD RUNS HAVE GONE FROM GOOD, WHEN THIS YOUNG ANGLER CAUGHT THIS ONE OFF WAWAWAI MUCH EARLIER THIS DECADE, TO BAD AND NOW WORSE IN RECENT YEARS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

A pair of emergency rule change notices out late this afternoon have the details, but essentially both catch-and-release and retention of steelhead will end from the mouth of the Snake up to the Couse Creek boat ramp, in Hells Canyon.

It’s being done to “ensure that sufficient numbers of both wild and hatchery B-index fish return to their natal tributaries and hatcheries of origin in Idaho,” WDFW states.

It follows on the agency’s previous reduction of the hatchery steelhead limit on the Snake from three to one as this year’s overall run has come in way below the preseason forecast of 118,200 smaller A- and larger B-runs, with just 69,200 now expected to pass Bonneville Dam.

Steelhead fisheries were restricted on the Columbia throughout the summer, and tomorrow, a slate of closures on Idaho waters takes effect.

Inland Northwest steelhead runs have not been good since 2016, with recent years seeing reduced limits and closures up and down the system. This year’s run will be among the lowest on record.

Meanwhile, WDFW is also reducing the fall Chinook fishery on the Snake, again to protect B-runs.

They’re closing it below Lower Granite Dam, except for a 1.4-mile “Lyons Ferry Bubble Fishery” from the Highway 261 bridge downstream.

And they’re reducing the amount of time the waters above and below Clarkston were set to stay open, from through Oct. 31 to now just Oct. 13.

Above Couse Creek, Chinook season continues through Halloween.

BILL STANLEY SHOWS OFF A FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE SNAKE IN A PAST SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

“The Fall Chinook return is large enough to continue to allow some harvest opportunities within the Snake River fisheries, while providing protection of B-index steelhead,” the agency stated in an e-reg.

Honestly, even as managers are both trying to protect critically low stocks and eke out fishing opportunity on stronger ones, it’s a bit much to wrap your head around at the end of an 8-5 shift.

Best bet is to refer to the eregs in the links above.

Steelheading To Close On Clearwater, Snake; IDFG: ‘No Surplus’ For Fishery

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

On Friday, Sept. 20, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to close all steelhead seasons on the Clearwater River because the number of returning adult hatchery fish is less than the number needed for broodstock, and there is no surplus to provide a fishery.

IDAHO’S STEELHEADING CLOSURE MEANS THAT EVEN CATCH-AND-RELEASE FISHING FOR UNCLIPPED A- AND B-RUNS, LIKE THIS ONE LANDED ON THE SOUTH FORK CLEARWATER, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE CLEARWATER DRAINAGE. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

The closure is effective at midnight on Sept. 29, 2019, and covers the Clearwater River upstream to the confluence of the Middle Fork and South Fork, along with the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork tributaries. The section of the Snake River downstream from the Couse Creek boat ramp to the Idaho/Washington state line will also be closed to protect Clearwater-bound steelhead. The closure in the Clearwater River drainage is consistent with harvest restrictions put in place in fisheries on the mainstem Columbia River by the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Departments.

Consistent with existing rules that prohibit targeting steelhead or salmon where there is no open season, anglers will not be allowed to fish for steelhead in the Clearwater River drainage after the fishery is closed, even catch-and-release.

The Clearwater River drainage closure is in addition to the already-restricted fishery the commission approved for statewide steelhead fishing during their August meeting. The existing seasons remain in place for steelhead fisheries in the Salmon and Snake river basins.

Idaho Fish and Game biologists have been tracking steelhead returns closely, and the number of Clearwater-bound hatchery steelhead has continued to fall short of projections. According to Lance Hebdon, anadromous fishery manager for Idaho Fish and Game, while the return of wild, Clearwater-bound steelhead is tracking close to the preseason forecast, the return of hatchery-origin steelhead to the Clearwater River is substantially below what was expected.

Through Sept. 18, biologists estimate about 1,158 hatchery steelhead destined for the Clearwater River have passed Bonneville Dam based on PIT tags. The small, electronic tags are embedded in fish and help biologists know which river migrating steelhead are destined for. On average, about 50 percent of the hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater River would have passed Bonneville Dam by Sept. 18.

“Based on average run timing, we estimate that this will result in approximately 2,300 fish crossing Bonneville Dam by the end of the season,” Hebdon said. “The result for Idaho anglers is that only 1,700 hatchery steelhead destined for the Clearwater River will make it to Lower Granite Dam by the end of the season.”

In order to meet broodstock needs for Clearwater River hatcheries (a total of 1,352 fish), 100 percent of the steelhead destined for the North Fork Clearwater River, and a high percentage of the fish destined for the South Fork Clearwater River would have to be collected, leaving no surplus fish for harvest.

Although the steelhead fishery will be closed in the Clearwater River basin, there will be no changes to the ongoing fall Chinook season, which is scheduled to close on Oct. 13. In addition, the commission approved a Coho salmon fishery in the Clearwater River basin during their conference call on Sept. 20. This Coho fishery is open effective immediately, and will run concurrent with the fall Chinook fishery.

Because these fisheries will close Oct. 13, or earlier if catch limits are attained, any incidental impact on Clearwater hatchery steelhead is expected to be minimal.

“Early in the fall, many of the steelhead in the Clearwater river basin are actually fish destined for the Salmon and Grande Ronde rivers, which have pulled into the Clearwater until water temperatures in the Snake River start to cool off,” Hebdon said. “The main component of the Clearwater River steelhead run starts arriving in the middle of October.”

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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Fall Chinook Retention Opens On Parts Of Washington’s, Oregon’s Snake

THE FOLLOWING ARE FROM THE WASHINGTON AND OREGON DEPARTMENTS OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Fall Chinook harvest to open on Snake River

Action: Opens fall Chinook season.

Effective date: Aug. 24 through Oct. 31, 2019

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Locations:

A) Snake River from the mouth (Burbank to Pasco Railroad Bridge at Snake River mile 1.25) to Lower Granite Dam.

BILL STANLEY SHOWS OFF A FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE SNAKE IN A PAST SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

B) Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream to the Oregon/Idaho border.

Reason for action: The 2019 Columbia River forecasted return of upriver bright adults is 158,400, with a significant portion of these fish expected to return to the Snake River. Adult hatchery fall Chinook, marked by a clipped adipose fin, and all jack chinook over 12 inches can be retained in these sections of the Snake River.

Additional information: Daily limit 6 adult hatchery Chinook, no daily limit for jack Chinook; release all other salmon. Barbless hooks are required when fishing for Chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. Anglers may not continue to fish after their daily adult salmon limit or daily steelhead limit has been retained.

The fishery is open seven days per week. Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All adult Chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. All Washington-licensed anglers must cease fishing for the day after they have retained their daily limit of either steelhead or adult salmon, in order to reduce catch and release mortality on steelhead. In addition, anglers cannot remove any Chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily limit.

Returning unmarked Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery, so anglers should be sure to properly identify their catch.

Low returns of steelhead have been predicted for the Snake River and tributaries this year and returns will be monitored as the season progresses. Anglers should continue to check emergency regulations for new and changing seasons, and refer to the 2019-20 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other rules and regulations.

Fall Chinook season to open on Snake River starting Aug. 24

Enterprise, Ore. – Fall Chinook season will open on the Snake River on Aug. 24 from the Oregon and Washington border upstream to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam.

Snake River fall Chinook are currently making their way up the Columbia River and have entered the Snake River. This past week, fish began to pass Lower Granite Dam. “In the past year, spring Chinook and steelhead numbers have been down in our region, limiting angler opportunity,” said Winston Morton, Acting Assistant District Fish Biologist.  “We are excited about the opportunity this fall for angler’s to fish for salmon in our district.”

The season for this fishery will open this weekend, Aug. 24, and run through Oct. 31, or until further notice and open seven-days per week.  From Oct. 31 to Nov. 17, only the reach of the Snake River from Cliff Mountain Rapid (RM 246.7) upstream to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam will remain open.

The daily bag limit for this season is six (6) adipose fin-clipped fall Chinook per day; with no daily, possession, or season limits on marked or un-marked jack salmon (less than or equal to 24 inches in length). Anglers must cease fishing for salmon for the day when they retain six (6) salmon (non-jack).

Barbless hooks and a Columbia Basin Endorsement are required when angling for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in the Snake River.  All other 2019 Oregon sport fishing regulations apply. Due to limited access in this section, most anglers access this fishery below Hells Canyon Dam or by jet boat.

Managers with the ODFW and Idaho Fish and Game expect a modest run of about 24,500 adult fall Chinook to pass above Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. “While the run size is fifty percent of the ten-year average, we feel fortunate to open this fishery to harvest hatchery surplus fish” said Morton.

Snake River fall Chinook enter the Columbia River during late summer and into the fall and travel nearly 600 miles past eight dams to reach their natal streams.

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Cathlamet Again Kicking Out Lots Of Pikeminnows; Boyer Park Tops So Far

With the Columbia-Snake pikeminnow season just past its halfway mark, Cathlamet is once again serving up plenty of fish for anglers participating in the sport reward program.

“Catch there is over 4,000 fish better than this time in 2018, when Cathlamet was our No. 1 producing station,” reports WDFW’s Eric Winther, who manages the fishery.

AN ANGLER BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM UNHOOKS A NORTHERN PIKEMINNOW. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

“Effort is also up (105 angler days), but fishing is clearly better in the Cathlamet area as angler catch per unit effort is 2.2 fish/angler day better than 2018, 8.6 vs 6.4,” he adds.

Through July 21, 81,345 of the native but salmonid smolt-eating fish have been turned in at stations everywhere from the Lower Columbia to the mouth of Hells Canyon.

Boyer Park on the Snake below Lower Granite Dam near Pullman has accounted for 13,434 of those, with Cathlamet at 12,882, The Dalles at 9,064, Washougal at 7,047 and Rainier at 4,712.

CPUEs are 9.4, 8.6, 4.3, 9.3 and 5.1, respectively.

“The Washougal area is also quietly having a good year in that they are more than 2,000 fish better than in 2018,” Winther notes. “Historically, the best late-season harvest rates — mid-August through September — come from pikeminnow stations located below Bonneville Dam. That means that fishing could get even better later this season at stations like Washougal and Cathlamet.”

For most years this decade The Dalles station has stood head and shoulders over all others, but last year it wilted to just half of 2017’s haul, possibly due to high waters early on discouraging anglers.

Winther speculated that Cathlamet’s surge late last season might have been due to pikeminnows dropping out of low, warm tribs into the mainstem Columbia. Top anglers discovered the abundance and drove up catch rates.

REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS CAN EARN $5 FOR TURNING IN THEIR FIRST 25 PIKEMINNOW THAT ARE 9 INCHES OR LARGER, $6 FOR THEIR 26TH THROUGH 200TH AND $8 FOR 201 OR MORE. MANY ARE ALSO TAGGED AND WORTH $500 APIECE. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

The Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program runs May 1 through Sept. 30 and pays anglers from $5 to $8 per qualifying fish, with $500 for specially tagged ones.

It’s been going on for 29 years as part of a state-federal effort aimed at reducing predation on Chinook, coho, steelhead and other smolts by pikeminnows, which have become more effective at preying on the young fish because of the reservoirs built on the Lower and Mid-Columbia and Lower Snake.

Winther just held a set of free fishing clinics in Longview and Tri-Cities and says that while none are currently scheduled in August, he may do some. Watch his events page for more.

“For people wanting to learn how to catch northern pikeminnow, late season in the lower river is often their best bet,” he adds. “Fish tend to bite better in the late season, perhaps preparing for the long cold winter to come, and many anglers may have given up trying to catch northern pikeminnow due to low success earlier in the season, and this means less competition for finding and catching them.”

So far this season, 2019’s top angler has been reeling in a bit more than $2,000 a week worth of pikeminnow’s. Last year’s high fisherman earned $71,049 for bringing in 8,686 fish.

“Definitely fish to be had,” says Winther. “Just need to get out there and find them.”

Where Barbed Hooks Are, Aren’t Now Allowed For Salmon, Steelhead On Washington’s Columbia System

Updated 3:10 p.m., May 31, 2019 with ODFW press release announcing Columbia hook rule change at bottom

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Anglers on a large portion of the Columbia River and many of its tributaries will no longer be required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead beginning June 1.

In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary for salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Due to Endangered Species Act permitting with NOAA, WDFW is unable to fully lift restrictions on barbed hooks in some areas at this time, including tributaries upstream of McNary Dam, including the Snake River.

Still, barbless hook requirements on salmon and steelhead fishing are being lifted across a broad swath of Washington waters, including the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam, and Columbia River tributaries from Buoy 10 to McNary Dam. Anglers fishing for sturgeon are still required to use barbless hooks.

The restriction on barbed hooks for salmon and steelhead will lift June 1 on the following waters:

A) Barbed hooks allowed for salmon and steelhead:

  1. Blue Creek (Lewis County), from the mouth to Spencer Road
  2. Cispus River (Lewis County)
  3. Columbia River, from a true north/south line through Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam
  4. Coweeman River and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  5. Cowlitz Falls Reservoir (Lake Scanewa) (Lewis County)
  6. Cowlitz River (Cowlitz County); Barbed hooks are also allowed for cutthroat trout in the Cowlitz River
  7. Drano Lake (Skamania County)
  8. Elochoman River (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Grays River, West Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  11. Kalama River (Cowlitz County)
  12. Klickitat River (Klickitat County)
  13. Lewis River (Clark County)
  14. Rock Creek (Skamania County)
  15. Tilton River (Lewis County)
  16. Toutle River (Cowlitz County)
  17. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County)
  18. Washougal River (Clark County)
  19. Washougal River, West (North) Fork (Clark/Skamania counties)
  20. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties)

B) Selective gear rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

  1. Abernathy Creek and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  2. Cedar Creek and tributaries (tributary of N.F. Lewis) (Clark County)
  3. Coal Creek (Cowlitz County)
  4. Delameter Creek (Cowlitz County)
  5. Germany Creek (Cowlitz County) and all tributaries.
  6. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  7. Grays River, East Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  8. Grays River, South Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River, West Fork tributaries (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Green River (Cowlitz County)
  11. Hamilton Creek (Skamania County)
  12. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From 1,000 feet above fishway at upper salmon hatchery to Summers Creek and from the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads to 6600 Road bridge immediately downstream of Jacks Creek.
  13. Lacamas Creek (Clark County): From mouth to footbridge at lower falls.
  14. Lacamas Creek, tributary of Cowlitz River (Lewis County)
  15. Lewis River, East Fork (Clark/Skamania counties): From mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls.
  16. Little Washougal River (Clark County)
  17. Mill Creek (Cowlitz County)
  18. Mill Creek (Lewis County): From the mouth to the hatchery road crossing culvert.
  19. Olequa Creek (Lewis/Cowlitz counties)
  20. Outlet Creek (Silver Lake) (Cowlitz County)
  21. Salmon Creek (Clark County): From the mouth to 182nd Avenue Bridge.
  22. Salmon Creek (Lewis County)
  23. Skamokawa Creek (Wahkiakum County)
  24. Stillwater Creek (Lewis County)
  25. Swift Reservoir (Skamania County): From the posted markers approximately 3/8 mile below Eagle Cliff Bridge to the bridge; from the Saturday before Memorial Day through July 15.
  26. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County):  From the mouth to the posted deadline below the fish collection facility.
  27. Wind River (Skamania County): from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to Moore Bridge.
  28. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties): From the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse upstream to Big Brother Falls (river mile 16).

C) Fly fishing only rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

  1. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From Summers Creek to the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads.

This rule will be reflected in the new Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet on July 1, 2019. Anglers are reminded to check the pamphlet for additional regulations and to learn more about selective gear and fly fishing rules. Anglers can also download the Fish Washington mobile app to see up-to-date regulations around the state. Visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app to learn more.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW today adopted temporary rules to allow anglers to use barbed hooks when fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout in the Columbia River beginning Saturday, June 1.

ODFW adopted the rule so Oregon’s fishing regulations will remain concurrent with Washington in the jointly-managed Columbia River. The temporary rule will remain in effect until further notice or until it expires in late November. For it to become a permanent rule, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will need to approve a rule change, which Commissioners are expected to consider at a future meeting.

Anglers have been required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon, steelhead, and trout in the Columbia River since 2013. In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a recommendation to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary, and Washington Fish and Wildlife implemented the rule to begin June 1.

Rules requiring the use of single-point barbless hooks when fishing for sturgeon in the Columbia River remain in effect for anglers in both states. 

For the latest on Columbia River fishing regulations visit https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone

Columbia Springer Run Downgraded To 75,000

File this one under Unsurprising News, but the Columbia upriver spring Chinook forecast has been cut by a quarter as the return begins to flag.

The U.S. vs OR Technical Advisory Committee, also known as TAC, yesterday estimated that only 75,000 adult kings will return to the mouth of the big river this spring, down from the preseason prediction of 99,300.

A FISH PASSAGE CENTER GRAPH SHOWS THE 2019 UPRIVER SPRING CHINOOK RUN AT BONNEVILLE DAM (RED LINE) COMPARED TO 2018 (BLUE LINE) AND THE 10-YEAR AVERAGE (BLACK). (FPC)

If it comes to pass, it would be the fewest springers since 1999’s 43,067.

As it has become apparent this year’s run won’t meet predictions — the count at Bonneville Dam through yesterday is 46,653, more than 80,000 fewer than the 10-year average — managers throughout the watershed tightened the clamps on this year’s fisheries even more, closing waters or announcing they wouldn’t open for angling.

Idaho scrubbed the two-day-a-week Clearwater River fishery because it didn’t look like enough salmon would return to meet broodstock needs and Washington helped out by cancelling the weekends-only opener at Clarkston on the Snake and later today at Little Goose Dam.

Oregon stated that its Snake, as well as the Wallowa and Imnaha Rivers and Lookingglass Creek also would not open, then WDFW put out an e-reg shutting down the popular Wind River and Drano Lake fisheries after this past Sunday to collect broodstock for hatcheries elsewhere, such as Leavenworth, an important facility powering sport and tribal fisheries on Icicle Creek.

While the Lower Columbia fishery saw three weekend-only extensions after its April 10 last scheduled day, the overall 1,471 upriver Chinook kept plus release mortalities accrued through the season between Warrior Rock and Bonneville should be covered by the run.

In a fact sheet out a couple weeks ago when managers mulled an April 27-28 opener said that a runsize of 53,300 would cover up to 1,691 mortalities.

The Columbia below Warrior Rock down to Buoy 10 was kept closed this year to protect weak returns of Cowlitz and Lewis springers. Hatcheries on those two systems need 1,337 and 1,380 fish to meet goals and as of last Tuesday, 416 and 421 had returned.

A total of 4,700 are needed for Idaho’s Clearwater system and analysis of passive integrated transponders placed in a portion of the run show that 3,500 had been counted at Bonneville as of last week.

A SPRING CHINOOK COMES ABOARD A BOAT FISHING AT THE MOUTH OF THE WIND RIVER. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The Willamette Falls springer count of 11,922 through May 16 is about 4,500 fish fewer than the 10-year average for the date but still much better than 2017’s 4,156.

As for this year’s new May lower Skagit Chinook sport fishery, only an estimated 22 had been caught through the 12th, though a better gauge of the run might be hatchery return.

If there is any bright spot to this year’s poor Columbia springer run, it might be that if this is the bottom of the salmon stock’s up-and-down cycle, it’s a whole lot better than the last big crash.

Only 24,095 and 12,792 entered the big river in 1994 and 1995, an era when there was no directed fishery on above-Bonneville-bound fish in the lower river.

Since that time, state, tribal and federal dollars have been poured into hatcheries, habitat and passage improvements, notes WDFW’s Ryan Lothrop.

The numbers of jacks — a potential indication for future runs — this year isn’t great, but it’s better than any time during the 1990s and during a downturn in the middle of this millennium’s first decade too.

DFWs To Talk Proposed Sturgeon Reg Changes For Gorge Pools, Reach, Snake

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

State fish managers are hosting a series of public meetings in May and June to discuss sturgeon fishing regulations in Washington.

DAVID KASPER BATTLES ONE OF A NUMBER OF STURGEON HE AND TWO FRIENDS HOOKED IN THE SWIRLING CURRENTS BELOW MCNARY DAM EARLIER THIS MONTH, WATERS THAT COULD SEE NEW RULES TO PROTECT SPAWNERS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) have scheduled public meetings at the following locations:

* The Dalles, Oregon: 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, May 22, at the ODFW screen shop, 3561 Klindt Dr., The Dalles.

* Kennewick: 6 to 8 p.m, Tuesday, June 11, at the Benton PUD building, 2721 W. 10th Ave., Kennewick.

*Hermiston, Oregon: 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 12, at the Hermiston Community Center, 415 S. Hwy 395, Hermiston.

An additional meeting in Montesano will also be announced at a later date.

Among the topics of discussion are possible rule changes meant to improve conservation efforts and increase the abundance and survival of mature spawning-size sturgeon.

The proposed regulations are also part of WDFW’s ongoing efforts to simplify fishing rules.

“In the past several years, the agency has been moving toward rule simplification as one of the primary objectives of our regulations,” said Laura Heironimus, sturgeon unit lead with WDFW. “This effort, combined with recent biological information, offered an opportunity to take a fresh look at sturgeon regulations around the state.”

Discussion topics and management recommendations include:

* Extending the dates of all sturgeon spawning sanctuaries in the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to Priest Rapids Dam, and in the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam, through Aug. 31. Most of these spawning sanctuaries are currently in effect from May 1 through July 31.

* Extending the area of the spawning sanctuaries on the Columbia River below McNary and Priest Rapids dams.

* Closing sturgeon retention fishing within McNary Reservoir, inclusive of the lower Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and the Hanford Reach below Priest Rapids Dam, due to a lack of population monitoring information.

In addition to input received at public meetings, WDFW will collect comments online and by mail. A webpage to collect public comments will be available soon. Following the public comment period, fish managers expect to brief the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in October on the resulting proposed regulations.

IDFG Halts Clearwater Springer Fishery; WDFW Closes Clarkston Area Of Snake

Editor’s note: Updated 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Idaho salmon managers are closing the two-day-a-week spring Chinook fishery on the Clearwater system because not enough fish are returning to cover eggtake needs, and Washington followed suit in the Clarkston area.

A FISH PASSAGE CENTER GRAPH SHOWS THE 2019 SPRING CHINOOK RUN AT BONNEVILLE DAM (RED LINE) SO FAR. BLUE LINE IS 2018 AND BLACK LINE IS THE 10-YEAR AVERAGE. OVER THE PAST DECADE, AN AVERAGE OF 111,686 SPRINGERS HAVE BEEN COUNTED AT THE DAM AS OF MAY 13, BUT THIS YEAR’S TALLY IS JUST 38,415. (FPC)

IDFG says it’s possible that the season could reopen later in May depending on dam counts, but returns at Bonneville took a downturn the past seven days after reaching a high of 4,807 last Tuesday.

So far, only 38,415 springers have been tallied at the first blockage of the Columbia, just 35 percent of the 10-year average.

“Based on the number of PIT tagged fish passing over Bonneville Dam, fisheries managers are projecting that not enough Chinook will return to hatcheries in the Clearwater River basin to meet brood needs. However, dam counts and PIT tag detections have been fluctuating and there’s some uncertainty to the actual size of the run,” IDFG said in a press release out today.

The agency said that typically by May 22 four-fifths of the Clearwater run should have gone over the dam and by then officials should know if enough are returning to reopen the season.

“Currently, the number of fish returning to Rapid River Hatchery is projected to be high enough for the fisheries to remain open in the lower Salmon River and Little Salmon River,” IDFG states.

Eric Barker of the Lewiston Morning Tribune broke the news that WDFW was also considering closing the Clarkston area of Washington’s Snake, and that has come to pass.

“This section of the Snake River is adjacent to the Clearwater River. Spring chinook salmon returns to the Clearwater are lower than preseason estimates, and this closure is necessary to protect hatchery brood stock within the Clearwater,” the agency said in an emergency rule-change notice.

That part of the river has only been open one weekend so far.

The waters near Little Goose Dam remain open, per the e-reg,

Last week, Oregon and Washington salmon managers granted two more days of fishing in Columbia Gorge pools up to the state line, but at the urging of anglers, guides and upstream tribes did not add any more time on the lower river.

They planned to provide an update on the run tomorrow.

2 Sections Of WA’s Snake Opening On Sat., Sun. Schedule For Springers

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Snake River spring chinook fishery to open two days per week

Action: Spring chinook salmon fishery opens two days per week (Saturday and Sunday) beginning May 11, 2019 in sections of the Snake River.

WITH LITTLE GOOSE DAM IN THE BACKGROUND, JEFF MAIN OF SPOKANE HOLDS A 25-POUND SPRING CHINOOK CAUGHT OUT OF THE SNAKE RIVER A FEW SEASONS BACK. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date:  May 11, 2019 until further notice.

Species affected: Salmon.          

Locations:

  1. A) Below Little Goose Dam: The Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam.  This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility);
  2. B) Clarkston: The Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the Washington/Idaho boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).

Reason for action:  The 2019 Columbia River forecasted return of upriver spring chinook salmon is sufficiently abundant enough to allow for harvest opportunity on the Snake River based on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission Policy C-3620.

Additional information: 

Salmon: Daily limit 4, of which up to 1 may be an adult; min. size 12 inches. Only hatchery chinook, as evidenced by a clipped adipose fin with a healed scar, may be retained. Release all other salmon. The Snake River opens for steelhead fishing on May 25. Anglers may not continue to fish for salmon or steelhead once the adult salmon daily limit has been retained. Any chinook over 24 inches is considered an adult. Night closure is in effect.

On days and in areas open for salmon, barbless hooks are required for all species.

When open for retention, anglers cannot remove any salmon or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.

WDFW will monitor this fishery and the returns of spring chinook throughout the season and may close the fishery at any time due to harvest levels, impacts fish listed under the Endangered Species Act, in-season run adjustments, or a combination of these things. Please continue to check emergency rules if you are planning to fish for spring chinook in the Snake River.

Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2018/2019 Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other regulations, including safety closures, closed waters, etc. Through June 30, anglers are required under state law to obtain a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement to fish for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.