OLYMPIA – Anglers will have at least four more days to fish for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon on a section of the Columbia River stretching 163 miles upstream from Bonneville Dam.
Citing the late timing of this year’s run, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to extend the fishery through May 6.
According to current projections, anglers will catch only about 232 of 1,689 salmon available for harvest through May 2, when the fishery was initially scheduled to close pending an updated run assessment.
“Fishing above Bonneville Dam has been slow, with the bulk of the run yet to arrive,” said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Both states agree we can safely give anglers an additional four days of fishing above the dam with little risk to the resource.”
The extension does not apply to salmon fishing below the dam, which has been closed since April 23 pending the run update. By then, anglers had taken about 70 percent of their initial quota of upriver chinook for that stretch of the river – most during the last week of fishing.
Above Bonneville Dam, boat and bank anglers are allowed to fish from the Tower Island powerlines to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from the powerlines downriver to Bonneville Dam.
Anglers fishing those areas can keep two marked hatchery adult chinook per day. All wild, unmarked chinook must be released unharmed.
Prior to this year’s fishing season, fishery managers projected a strong return of 314,200 upriver spring chinook salmon to the Columbia, anticipated to be the fourth-highest on record. To guard against overestimating the run, both states have managed the fishery with a 30 percent “buffer,” LeFleur said.
“We’ll have a better idea of the actual size of the run once more fish have passed Bonneville Dam,” she said. “That assessment will also determine whether we can give anglers additional time to fish.”
Most tributaries flowing into the Columbia River above and below Bonneville Dam are also open for spring chinook fishing under separate regulations described in the state’s 2012-13 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available at license vendors and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.