OLYMPIA – State fishery managers have again extended the initial sportfishing season for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River in response to poor fishing conditions caused by extremely high, turbid water.
The fishery will reopen from April 13-17 and from April 20-23 upstream from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River to Bonneville Dam, except in the Lewis River sanctuary.
The extension was approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon, who previously extended the season by four days earlier this month.
With seasonal water flow well above average, anglers have not had much success in getting fish to bite, said Ron Roler, a Columbia River fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Through April 10, anglers had caught only about 10 percent of the upriver spring chinook available for harvest at this point in the season.
Meanwhile, only 217 adult spring chinook salmon have been counted passing Bonneville Dam through April 10, far short of the 1,600 fish previously expected by mid-April.
"Test fisheries in the lower river are finding plenty of spring chinook," Roler said. "They're just not very quick to bite or move upriver under these conditions. Often visibility in the river is so limited that the fish can't see the anglers' lures."
He suggests that anglers check reports of streamflows and fish-passage levels at Bonneville Dam for signs of improving fishing conditions.
"Fishing should pick up fairly quickly once the fish start to move," Roler said.
Anglers planning to fish for spring chinook in the lower Columbia are advised to check the new fishing rule at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
The spring chinook fishery upriver from Bonneville Dam to the Washington-Oregon border near Umatilla is not affected by the extension in the lower river and remains open until May 5. If spring chinook return at or above projections, fishery managers plan to provide additional fishing opportunities in both areas later this spring.
Anglers fishing those waters are allowed to retain one marked, hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon as part of their daily limit of two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each. Any chinook or steelhead without a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar must be released unharmed.