OLYMPIA – Starting Monday (Aug. 25), anglers will be required to release any chinook salmon they intercept in the Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River.
The new rule, approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon, does not affect fishing for hatchery-reared coho salmon or steelhead in the river.
High catch rates – particularly for upriver bright chinook – prompted both states to end retention of chinook salmon in the Buoy 10 fishery a week earlier than planned, said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“We really haven’t seen catch rates like these at Buoy 10 since the late 1980s,” said LeFleur, noting that some chinook caught in recent weeks have weighed nearly 50 pounds. “We have to make sure we leave enough harvestable chinook for sport fisheries further upriver.”
The Buoy 10 fishing area extends 16 miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line.
By Monday, fishery managers estimate that anglers will have caught approximately 5,900 chinook salmon in that area – somewhat short of the total chinook allocation of 6,500 fish for the season. But the catch of upriver bright chinook is expected to meet or exceed the 1,250-fish target for that stock, LeFleur said.
“Data from coded-wire tags indicates the concentration of upriver bright chinook in the catch is much higher than expected,” she said. “That’s significant, because a portion of that stock is made up of federally protected chinook bound for the Snake River, and we need to minimize interception of those fish.”
LeFleur noted that a variety of new regulations are in effect this year to conserve chinook runs on the lower Columbia River and it’s tributaries. But anglers will have another chance to catch chinook salmon on the mainstem Columbia starting Sept. 1, when waters upriver from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line to Bonneville Dam open for chinook retention.
“If the Buoy 10 fishery is any indication, fishing should be great,” LeFleur said. “With this rain we’ve been having, we should see a lot more fish move into the river between now and then.”
Anglers planning to fish waters opening Sept. 1 on the Columbia River should be aware of an eight-mile area near the mouth of the Lewis River that will remain closed to chinook retention this year, LeFleur said. Information about that closure and other fishing rules is included in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.