THE FOLLOWING ARE A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDIFE AND RULE CHANGE NOTICES FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
ENTERPRISE, Ore. – Starting on Sept. 24, anglers will be able to harvest coho salmon in the Grande Ronde River for the third time since they were reintroduced in 2017.
Coho returns to the Snake River basin have increased over the last three years with the 2021 return being the highest ever. “The 2022 return is looking to be similar to last year,” said Kyle Bratcher, District Fish Biologist. “We’re excited that more folks are taking an interest in this fishery and that we can provide this opportunity,” Bratcher added.
Coho salmon were reintroduced to provide for harvest in both treaty and non-treaty fisheries and to restore ecological function lost in their absence. Coho were extirpated in the early 1900s with multiple reintroduction efforts attempted up until the 1970s. Current pilot reintroduction efforts are aimed at assessing the success of reintroduction, using a lower Columbia River stock, prior to potential development of a localized hatchery stock.
While the fishery is opening on Sept. 24, there likely will not be a lot of fish in the Grande Ronde River for another week or two. Coho are just starting to cross the Lower Granite Dam and need time to make their way upriver to the Oregon section. During the past two years, catch rates have been very low with anglers primarily targeting steelhead and catching an occasional coho.
“I suspect that because anglers are focused on steelhead, we haven’t seen great fishing for coho,” said Bratcher. “I do think that once anglers start targeting them and figure out their habits, we’ll see catch rates increase,” he added.
This year’s fishery has been extended to include the roadless section from the Wildcat Bridge up to the mouth of the Wallowa River. With two years of fisheries in the books, managers can lean on lessons learned and have extended the fishery knowing it presents a very low risk of over harvest.
The regulations for the coho fishery on the Grande Ronde River will be as follows:
Dates Open: Sept. 24 through Nov. 30, 2022, or until further notice.
Open Area: The Grande Ronde River from the Oregon-Washington border upstream to the Wallowa River confluence.
Bag Limits: For adult coho salmon (>20 inches) the bag limit will be two (2). For Jack coho salmon (≤ 20 inches) the bag limit will be five (5) with two daily limits in possession.
In addition to a strong coho return, Bratcher says that fall Chinook salmon and bull trout are also encountered on an annual basis during the Grande Ronde steelhead fishery. “Having the diversity on the Grande Ronde is great and makes for a more interesting time on the water,” said Bratcher. He added that “Anglers should brush up on species identification to stay out of trouble when harvesting steelhead and coho.”
Effective date: One hour before official sunrise on Sept. 22 through one hour after official sunset on Nov. 30, 2022.
Species affected: Coho salmon.
Locations: Icicle River (Chelan County)
1. From the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth of the river to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
2. From the shoreline markers where Cyo Road intersects the Icicle River at the Sleeping Lady Resort to the Icicle Peshastin Irrigation Footbridge (approximately 750 feet upstream from the Snow Lakes trailhead parking area).
1. Minimum size is 12″. Daily limit 4 coho. Release all salmon other than coho.
2. Night closure in effect.
3. Bait (including scents and flavors) is prohibited.
4. No motorboats, other than boats with electric trolling motors may be used. (Chelan County ordinance 7.20.190 motorboat restrictions).
5. Barbed hooks allowed.
6. Two-Pole Endorsement not allowed in this fishery.
Reason for action: Expected returns of coho to the Icicle River are sufficient to provide for sport angler harvest.
Additional information: WDFW will be monitoring the fishery closely and may close the season early if necessary due to excessive incidental catch-and-release impacts to ESA-listed summer steelhead.
Yakima River fall salmon fishery to open
Action: Opens the Lower Yakima River to fishing for salmon.
Effective date: Friday, Sept. 23 through Monday, Oct. 31, 2022.
Species affected: Chinook and cohosalmon.
Location: From the Hwy. 240 Bridge in Richland (river mile 2.1) to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser (river mile 47.0).
Daily limit 2 adult salmon. No limit on jack salmon. Minimum size is 12”.
Release all salmon other than Chinook and coho.
Barbless hooks required when fishing for salmon.
Anglers can use two poles when fishing for salmon with the Two-Pole Endorsement.
Night closure in effect for salmon.
Reason for action: Current fish passage through the Prosser Diversion indicates that fall Chinook and coho are expected to return in sufficient numbers to provide sport fishing opportunity for anglers in the Lower Yakima River.
Additional information: Anglers must stop fishing for salmon once they have retained their adult daily limit. Chinook measuring 24″ or more in length and coho measuring 20″ or more in length are classified as adults.
Fishing remains closed from 200′ downstream of the USBR Chandler Powerhouse to 200′ upstream of the USBR Chandler Powerhouse.
Fishery managers will continue to monitor the return and announce any additional changes to the fishery if necessary. Anglers are advised to check WDFW’s website for fishery rule change updates at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/emergency-rules. Also, you can receive all in-season rules changes as they are announced by signing up for email notification through WDFW regulation updates at wdfw.wa.gov/about/lists.