Columbia River spring Chinook managers will decide tomorrow on a fishery proposed to run through April 6 on the mainstem below Bonneville Dam.
No river mouth bubbles or lower river closures would be in effect unlike recent years, but the usual limit of one hatchery springer a day and bank-fishing-only zone above Beacon Rock would apply.
ODFW and WDFW staffers estimate that 5,179 adult salmon would be kept over the 37 days, reaching 99.6 percent of the prerunsize update “guideline” and including 3,896 mortalities – kept hatchery fish and post-release loss of wild kings – of constraining upper basin springers.
“The season recommendation for the fishery upstream of Bonneville Dam is based on the available pre-update allocation, estimated catch rates, and support from the CRRAG,” or the joint-state Columbia River Recreational Advisory Group, according to a fact sheet out late this afternoon.
This year’s forecast calls for a total of 197,000 springers back to the mouth of the big river, about 44,300 more than actually returned in 2021.
Fish are already being caught in the Willamette, per images posted to a local tackle store. Best fishing on the Columbia typically isn’t until late March and early April.
Managers are also proposing an April 1-May 5 season in the Columbia Gorge from the Tower Island powerlines to the Washington-Oregon border, a fishery that is expected to yield 524 keepers.
A final decision on both and other seasons will be made beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday during a teleconference.
“Staff will monitor the fisheries in-season. If they are tracking within preseason expectations, the intent would be to allow the fisheries to run through the proposed end dates. After closure of each fishery, staff will review catches and determine if additional fishing opportunity is warranted,” the fact sheet states.
It also says that Cowlitz and Kalama limits are expected to be reduced due to lower runs. Low returns to the Cowlitz and Lewis and need to ensure broodstock needs were met the past couple seasons saw a bubble closure around the former river mouth last year and no fishing below the latter before that.