Columbia Chinook Limit Boosted, Keeper Sturgeon Day Added In Estuary

Editor’s note: Updated at bottom with ODFW press release

Columbia anglers can keep a second Chinook in the coming days and they’ll have one more day to retain a sturgeon in the estuary this weekend.

CATHLAMET ANGLER MD JOHNSON HOISTS A STURGEON HE CAUGHT IN THE COLUMBIA ESTUARY IN MID-MAY. (JULIA JOHNSON)

WDFW and ODFW managers this afternoon approved boosting the daily limit to two hatchery kings June 12-15 below Bonneville, as well as in the open waters from the dam to the Oregon-Washington border upstream of McNary Dam.

Going into the joint state hearing, a recommendation from state staffers said that given the current estimated runsize and how many spring Chinook have been caught so far, “there is potential for additional recreational opportunity” above and below Bonneville.

They also reported that since the May 21 reopener catches have “been less than expected” on either side of the dam.

“Through June 6, an estimated 3,963 Chinook have been kept (839 released) from 56,234 angler trips. The below Bonneville area has accrued 2,677 out of an allowed 4,951 upriver mortalities (54%) pending the results of CWT recoveries,” their fact sheet states about the below-Bonneville fishery.

Catches are expected to remain within allowable limits and ESA impact rates.

However, the fact sheet also says that angling for spring Chinook on a section of the Snake below Little Goose Dam “is not expected to reopen this year” due to a declining percentage of hatchery fish swimming through there.

But with an estimated 800 keeper sturgeon still available below the Wauna Powerlines after May and June’s 12 daily openers, ODFW and WDFW managers added this Saturday, June 12, through 2 p.m.

“The preliminary 2021 harvest estimate for this fishery is 2,160 kept from approximately 16,350 angler trips. The kept catch represents 73% of the 2,960 fish harvest guideline for this fishery. Anglers have also released an estimated 3,016 sublegal and 5,008 over-legal sized white sturgeon,” the fact sheet states.

While the opener aligns with the first day of Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend, it also overlaps with Saturday’s scheduled sturgeon fishery on the lower Willamette, Multnomah Channel and Scappoose Bay, so pressure on the estuary may be less than it otherwise would be.

—–THE FOLLOWING IS AN OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE—-

State fishery managers from Oregon and Washington added four retention days (June 12-15) for spring Chinook above Bonneville Dam and increased the adult hatchery Chinook bag limit river-wide to two fish during that same time period. They also added an additional Estuary sturgeon retention day (June 12) on the lower Columbia River.

From Saturday, June 12 through Tuesday, June 15, fishing will be open in the mainstem Columbia River from the Tower Island power lines (approximately six miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, plus the Oregon and Washington banks between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines. The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery salmonids (Chinook or steelhead) per day, but only one may be a steelhead.

Spring Chinook retention has been open below Bonneville Dam since June 1, so today‚Äôs decision simply adjusts the adult bag limit from one hatchery Chinook per day to two in the open area for the last four days of the spring management period. 

The increased daily limit for adult Chinook and continued limit of one hatchery steelhead per day within the daily bag aligns the remainder of the spring management period with bag limits previously adopted for the summer season that begins June 16.

Sturgeon retention will also be open Saturday, June 12 on the mainstem Columbia River from the Wauna powerlines downstream to the mouth at Buoy 10, including Youngs Bay, and all adjacent Washington tributaries. The allowable catch is up to 800 white sturgeon.

The daily bag limit is one legal-sized white sturgeon, with a statewide annual bag limit of two fish. Legal-size white sturgeon are those measuring a minimum of 44 inches and a maximum of 50 inches fork length, which is measured in a straight line under the fish from the tip of the nose to the fork in the caudal (tail) fin with the fish laying on a flat surface. Retention of green sturgeon is prohibited and single point barbless hooks are required when angling for sturgeon. Angling for sturgeon is prohibited after 2 p.m. including catch and release.

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