OLYMPIA - Two sections of the Snake River below Little Goose Dam and Clarkston will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon Thursday April 24. Two other sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco and below Lower Granite Dam will open Sunday April 27.
Each section of the river is scheduled to be open three days per week.
The Little Goose Dam and Clarkston area sections will be open Thursday through Saturday each week, while the sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam and below Lower Granite Dam are scheduled to be open Sunday through Tuesday each week.
All four sections of the river will remain open until further notice, with the fishery expected to remain open from four to six weeks, said Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The fishery will close when the Snake River harvest allocation is met or allowable impacts on wild stocks reach federal limits, he said.
"With a good run-size forecast this year for Columbia River spring chinook, we will likely be able to sustain fishing into mid-June," said Mendel.
Approximately 125,000 spring chinook salmon are expected to return to the Snake River Basin this year, including 83,000 hatchery fish. Last year's forecast anticipated a return of 58,200 spring chinook, with 39,300 hatchery fish.
The daily catch limit for most of the open areas is one hatchery adult chinook - marked with a clipped adipose fin - and five hatchery jacks measuring less than 24 inches.
The exception is the area along the south shoreline of the Little Goose Dam (including "the wall") upstream from the juvenile-bypass return pipe, where anglers may retain one adult hatchery chinook salmon but only two hatchery jack salmon per day.
Barbless hooks are required in all areas, and anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult chinook salmon. All chinook with an adipose fin, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.
"Our federal permit to conduct this fishery requires us to closely monitor the catch," Mendel said. "Our ability to do that is largely due to funds from the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement."
The endorsement, required of all anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River system, including the Snake River, costs $8.75; seniors and youth pay $7.10.
The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 24 are:
- Below Little Goose Dam: Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (on the south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility. This area includes the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility.
- Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line. (The state line extends from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 27 are:
- Below Ice Harbor: Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam;
- Below Lower Granite Dam: Snake River from the Ilia Boat Launch on the south across to the mouth of Almota Creek upstream about four miles to the restricted fishing area below Lower Granite Dam.
Mendel strongly encourages anglers to review the fishing rule change, posted on WDFW's website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
General fishing regulations for the Snake River effective through April 30 are available in the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/). The new sport fishing rules pamphlet for 2014-15 will also be available on that webpage.