Hells Canyon Springers, Lake Roosevelt Sturgeon To Open


Spring Chinook season opens in Hells Canyon on May 17

May 17, 2022

ENTERPRISE, Ore. – Spring Chinook season opened on the Snake River in Hells Canyon on May 17 from the Dug Bar boat ramp to the boundary below Hells Canyon Dam.

Snake River spring Chinook are currently migrating up the main stem Columbia River and arriving in the Oregon section of the Snake River. “While we aren’t expecting a lot of fish, there is a healthy public interest in this fishery and have decided to open so people can take advantage of that opportunity,” said Kyle Bratcher, ODFW District Fish Biologist in Enterprise. “We’re expecting anglers will catch mostly jacks with the occasional adult,” added Bratcher.

During the 2018 run year, collections of adult spring Chinook salmon at hatcheries in Idaho and Hells Canyon came up short of what was needed for ongoing production which prevented the release of juvenile spring Chinook into Hells Canyon in 2020. Because of that, very few adults are expected in 2022. However, current counts of jacks are strong at Bonneville Dam which suggests they could be available in this fishery.

The daily bag limit will be four hatchery Chinook per day of which only one may be an adult (adults are Chinook salmon over 24 inches long). Anglers must cease fishing for all salmon once they have retained one adult hatchery Chinook or four hatchery jack salmon, whichever comes first. Barbless hooks, an angling license, a combined angling tag, and a Columbia Basin Endorsement are required when angling for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in the Snake River. All other 2021 sport fishing regulations apply.

“This year, hatchery Chinook salmon returning to Hells Canyon will not be used for broodstock so all returning fish are available for harvest,” Bratcher said. “This fishing season will provide Oregon anglers an opportunity to try to catch some of these fish.”

Though broodstock will not be collected at Hells Canyon Dam in 2022, it is expected that production goals will be met elsewhere within the Snake Basin that will provide juveniles for future release at Hells Canyon Dam.

So far this year, modest numbers of spring Chinook have been counted migrating upstream past Bonneville Dam, and the counts of returning fish are much better than the low returns the last several years. Fishing for spring Chinook salmon in the Imnaha and Grande Ronde River basins remains closed. However, with improved counts, angling opportunities may be considered in Lookingglass Creek, the Wallowa River, and the Imnaha River. Fishery managers will monitor the run and assess these fishery options as the fish arrive.

For the latest on NE Oregon and Snake River fishing in-season regulation changes, visit


Lake Roosevelt white sturgeon fishery

Action: Opens a harvest fishery for white sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt.

Effective date: Open 7 days per week beginning June 18, 2022, until further notice.


Species affected: White Sturgeon

Location: From Grand Coulee Dam to China Bend Boat Ramp (including the Spokane River from Highway 25 Bridge upstream to 400’ below Little Falls Dam, Colville River upstream to Meyers Falls Dam and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow Bridge).

Fishery Rules: Daily Limit 1 sturgeon. Annual Limit 2 sturgeon (applies statewide). It is legal to retain sturgeon between 50 inches and 63 inches fork length. Fork length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the fork in the caudal fin (tail) with the fish laying on its side on a flat surface and the tape measure/ruler positioned flat under the fish. All harvested sturgeon must be recorded on a Catch Record Card (Catch Code 549). Two pole fishing is allowed. Only one single-point barbless hook and bait per rod is allowed. Closed to night fishing. Anglers must cease fishing for the day after obtaining a daily limit and for the season after the annual limit has been taken. All other statewide rules for white sturgeon must be observed.

Anglers are asked to use heavy gear (50 lb. test mainline and leader at a minimum) and 14/0 hooks or smaller to avoid catching and/or injuring large wild adult sturgeon. The request to use heavier gear will ensure anglers hook and land sturgeon effectively, but also is protective of large wild adult sturgeon that, if hooked, should be played to hand quickly and released. It is unlawful to remove sturgeon greater than 63 inches, totally or in part, from the water. In addition, WDFW recommends that any fish that will not be legally retained should not be removed from the water prior to release.

Reason for action: White Sturgeon hatchery programs began in 2001 in British Columbia (BC) and 2004 in Washington. Stocking ranged from 2,000-12,000 juvenile sturgeon per year from 2001 to 2010 (including both Washington and BC releases).  Survival of hatchery-produced juvenile sturgeon was higher than anticipated, resulting in a surplus of hatchery-origin sturgeon available for harvest from Lake Roosevelt.

Additional information: The Lake Roosevelt co-managers (WDFW, Spokane Tribe and the Colville Confederated Tribes) will all be conducting sturgeon fisheries. Non-tribal anglers are asked to be respectful of tribal angling, and both tribal and non-tribal sturgeon research that is occurring on the reservoir. In order to limit fishery impacts to wild adult sturgeon, the portion of Lake Roosevelt from China Bend upstream to the Canadian border will not open to fishing in 2022.

Anglers are reminded that fishery dates, times, slot limits, daily limits, and annual limits may be adjusted over time to ensure that a sustainable population of sturgeon is maintained in Lake Roosevelt, as well as equitable access to the fishery amongst the three co-managers.

Information contact: For more information, contact Chris Donley, WDFW Region 1 Fish Program Manager (509) 892 1001 ext. 307 or Bill Baker, WDFW District 1 Fisheries Biologist (509) 563-5499.