More Spring Chinook Fishing Days Added Below, Above Bonneville

Spring Chinook anglers will be able to fish all but one day between now and the start of summer king season on the Lower Columbia, as well as two days in the gorge pools in late May, as state managers today again expanded opportunities thanks to a run that is continuing to exceed expectations.

Fishing will run now through this Sunday, May 22, and reopen from May 24 straight through June 15 from the Tongue-Rocky Point Line to Bonneville Dam, and Thursday, May 26, and Saturday, May 28, from the upper end of the Bonneville Pool to the state line east of McNary Dam.


Last week ODFW and WDFW approved May 12-22 and June 4-15 seasons below Bonneville. The summer Chinook season downstream of the dam was earlier set to June 16-22, and it begins June 16 above there.

The latest expansion to mostly plug the gap on either side of Memorial Day Weekend follows the Technical Advisory Committee earlier this week again raising the upriver springer forecast, now to 180,000, from just under 162,000 two Mondays ago (123,000 or so was the preseason estimate), and that provided more available mortalities for the sport fleet.

Since the May 12 reopener, catch rates and angler effort have been tracking somewhat ahead of expectations; models had suggested 300 fish a day coming over the rail in the first few days.

The allocation below Bonneville now stands at 10,170 upriver fish, with 4,640 available for harvest. The DFWs report the overall all-springer catch for the season through May 15 as 6,888, with 5,488 of those upriver fish.

While technically there were no fish available in the gorge pools even with the run update and state staffers didn’t propose reopening it, in today’s fact sheet they allowed that the below-Bonneville balance could fill the bill above the dam and both ODFW’s Tucker Jones and WDFW’s Dr. Charlene Hurst were in favor of adding a bit more time. They had passed on doing so last week after those waters went well over their initial quota.

The duo also approved a controversial nontreaty commercial fishery in the Lower Columbia from, essentially, I-5 upstream to Beacon Rock, reportedly the first in the mainstem targeting springers since 2016.

Recreational organizations were opposed to that 11-hour opener on May 23 and were disappointed when Jones and Hurst, both representing the authority of their respective agency directors, approved it.

“Some would say the managers are in a disconnect with their governors and legislative intent to support the (salmon harvest) reforms and remove gillnetting out of the mainstem Columbia,” said Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “This is a terrible precedent and counter to the very clear directions from state leaders.”

Washington lawmakers this year provided $14.4 million for a voluntary gillnet license buyback program to reduce the fleet on the Lower Columbia, something NSIA termed “the most notable achievement” of the legislative session. Last year’s buyback was vetoed by the governor. And for nearly a decade now, the DFWs and their commissions have been moving toward ending gillnetting in the mainstem in favor of using alternative gear.

Technically, that is what will be used next Monday between the hours of 10 am. and 9 p.m. – what’s known as tangle drift nets with a 4.25-inch mesh that is also called a toothnet. Per WDFW staff, fish get wrapped up in the net rather than caught by their gills. Commercial netters will also be restricted next week in how long they can let their gear soak, how long their nets can be and the material they’re made of – multifilament instead of monofilament – and they must have recovery boxes and fishery observors aboard, and be live-capture certified.

State modeling suggests the half-day opener will result in a kept catch of 400 or less springers for nontreaty commercials. During today’s call netters said fish are going for around $4.50 a pound, down from roughly twice that earlier in the run. Effort is expected to be low due to short notice, how far the open water is away from the bulk of the fleet’s base lower in the Columbia and potential for a building run of shad to clog nets, today’s fact sheet said.


Another 11 Columbia River spring Chinook fishing days added downstream of Bonneville Dam, two fishing days added upstream

CLACKAMAS, Ore.—Following a second run upgrade, fishery managers from Oregon and Washington adopted additional fishing days (Tuesday, May 24 – Friday, June 3) for recreational spring Chinook salmon in the Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam today during a joint state hearing.

This additional opportunity is based on an updated May 16 forecast that projects the return of 180,000 upriver-origin adult spring Chinook (up from 161,000 projected a week ago). At this level, the updated projection would be about 118 percent of the recent 10-year average return of these fish. 

The 11 added days in the lower river added today help fill in the gap from days set last week. The two additional days upstream of Bonneville Dam provide some extra time in an area where the season was cut short due to much higher than expected catches.

With the days added today, the upcoming recreational spring Chinook fishing days on the Columbia River are as follows:

Below Bonneville Dam:

  • Season: Thursday, May 12 through Sunday, May 22; Tuesday, May 24 through Wednesday, June 15
  • Bag limit: Two adult hatchery salmonids (Chinook or steelhead) per day, but only one may be a Chinook
  • Open area: Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank) plus bank angling only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline. Legal upstream boat boundary defined as: A deadline marker on the Oregon bank (approximately four miles downstream from Bonneville Dam Powerhouse One) in a straight line through the western tip of Pierce Island to a deadline marker on the Washington bank at Beacon Rock
  •  While the recreational spring Chinook fishery will not be open on Monday May 23, the shad fishery below Bonneville Dam and summer steelhead fishery between Tongue Point and the I-5 Bridge remain open per permanent regulations.

Above Bonneville Dam:

  • Season: Thursday May 26 and Saturday May 28
  • Bag limit: Two adult hatchery salmonids (Chinook or steelhead) per day, but only one may be a Chinook
  • Open Area: Tower Island power lines (approximately six miles downstream of The Dalles Dam) upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, plus bank angling only between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines

Columbia River spring Chinook salmon seasons are driven by balancing opportunity with Endangered Species Act limitations, provisions in the management agreement between the states and Columbia River Treaty Tribes that specify the total harvest guideline of upriver-origin spring Chinook and guidance from the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissions regarding the allocation of spring Chinook among the non-treaty fisheries.

Fishery managers will monitor these fisheries and may consider further hearings to consider the latest information on catch rates to determine if additional fishery management actions are needed.

For the latest on Columbia River fishing regulations, visit


More days added to Columbia spring Chinook fishery, which marks its best return since 2015

OLYMPIA – As the number of upriver spring Chinook continues to exceed expectations, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Wednesday agreed to allow 11 more days on the lower Columbia River for recreational spring Chinook fishing beginning Tuesday, May 24, in addition to two days upstream of Bonneville Dam.

Earlier this week, fishery managers increased the run-size forecast for adult spring Chinook returning to the Columbia River upstream of Bonneville Dam in 2022 to 180,000 adults, up from the pre-season forecast of 122,900. Fishery managers continue to see good passage over Bonneville Dam, which is promising news. To date, this is the 11th best cumulative count since 1980.

“We continue to see strong counts daily, which supports the increased run size estimate leading to more fishing opportunity,” said Ryan Lothrop, the Columbia River fishery manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Managers previously agreed to open the area downstream of Bonneville Dam for two distinct openings, with the first occurring now through Sunday, May 22. The second opening will take place starting Tuesday, May 24 through Wednesday, June 15. Fishing will be open on these dates from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), plus bank angling by hand-cast only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.

“By taking these measured steps to re-open, it has allowed us to provide additional opportunities while ensuring we remain within harvest constraints,” Lothrop said. The fisheries and run will continue to be assessed regularly.

The spring Chinook fishery upstream of Bonneville Dam reopens May 26 and May 28 from the Tower Island power lines (approximately 6 miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, plus bank angling by hand-cast only between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines.

Anglers should review the permanent rules for the waters they plan to fish in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet at, as well as check for any emergency rule changes – available at – before heading out.

Permanent rules remain in effect through June 15 on all days (shad retention open river-wide, and steelhead and jack retention below I-5). These areas revert to permanent rules as listed in the 2021-22 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. 

Members of the public can sign up to receive Columbia River fishery updates at