OLYMPIA - When the popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens Aug. 1 at mouth of the Columbia River, anglers will find new fishing rules to aid them in their pursuit of fall chinook and hatchery coho salmon.
A new party fishing regulation in Oregon, which mirrors a previously existing rule in Washington, now allows boat anglers on either side of the Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to the Rocky Point / Tongue Point line to keep their gear in the water until the daily limits for all licensed and juvenile anglers on board have been reached. Previously, boat fishers in Oregon waters were required to bring in their lines once their individual limits were reached, even if others on board had not caught their limit.
In another new rule, a bonus bag limit for coho will go into effect Aug. 16 in Buoy 10 waters. The Buoy 10 fishery opens Aug. 1 with a daily limit of two fish but increases to three fish daily beginning Aug. 16. Only one fish per day may be a chinook.
With more than 595,000 fall chinook expected to return to the mouth of the Columbia this year, along with 429,000 coho, the Buoy 10 and lower Columbia sport fisheries are expected to attract considerable attention from anglers.
The projected fall chinook return, although lower than last year's near-record return of 733,000 adults, would still be the fourth-largest return since 1948. This year's expected coho return is similar to last year, when an estimated 511,000 adult coho returned.
This year's Buoy 10 fishery is expected to produce catches of 18,000 chinook and 37,000 coho. Last year, the Buoy 10 fishery prompted 84,000 angler trips, resulting in catches of 19,400 chinook and 6,200 adipose fin-clipped coho. The fall chinook catch was the largest since 1987, and the third-highest on record.
Bank anglers are reminded the Columbia River North Jetty is open to salmon fishing seven days per week when the Buoy 10 or Marine Area 1 salmon fishery is open. Daily limit and minimum size requirements follow the most liberal regulations of either area. Salmon anglers can use barbed hooks at Buoy 10 and on the North Jetty.
Meanwhile, salmon fishing on the mainstem Columbia from the Rocky Point / Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam, also opens Aug. 1 under fall rules, when both marked and unmarked chinook and adipose-clipped coho may be retained. This year's fishery is expected to produce catches of 13,000 chinook and 3,000 hatchery coho.
Last year's lower mainstem river fishery produced 111,000 angler trips and a catch of 21,200 adult chinook, 3,000 fin-clipped coho and 3,500 fin-clipped summer steelhead. The total fall chinook catch was an all-time record, more than twice that of the previous record year in 2001. Angling effort and catch rates for chinook were also record highs.
In their eagerness to land a fish, boaters are reminded to keep safety in mind and their eyes on commercial ship traffic, fishery managers caution.
Fall salmon seasons also begin Aug. 1 on several Columbia River tributaries, including the Cowlitz, Toutle, Green, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal, Wind and Klickitat rivers, plus Drano Lake. Up to three adult hatchery coho may be retained on the Cowlitz, Toutle, Green, Lewis and Washougal rivers. Anglers are reminded that wild coho and all chum salmon must be released in the mainstem Columbia - including Buoy 10 - and its tributaries downstream from Bonneville Dam.
In a continuing effort to reduce snagging, new angling restrictions will be in effect on several southwest Washington waters. On the lower Kalama and Washougal rivers, line and weight or lure or bait must be moving (not stationary) beginning Sept. 1. Night closures and non-buoyant lure restrictions will begin Aug. 1 in the Bonneville Pool, a month earlier than in the past. Non-buoyant lure restrictions will also be in effect Aug. 1 on the lower portions of the Wind and Klickitat rivers.
More information on regulations is available in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Fishing In Washington rules pamphlet or on the department's website on the Internet.