OLYMPIA - Starting Friday (June 27), the lower Grande Ronde River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon for the first time in 40 years.
The lower Grande Ronde River, from the Highway 129 Bridge upstream approximately 12 miles to the farthest upstream Oregon/Washington boundary line, will be open for spring chinook fishing through Monday (June 30).
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are testing the feasibility of a spring chinook fishery in the lower Grande Ronde River to increase the harvest of hatchery fish destined for the Lostine River in Oregon, said John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) eastern region fish program manager.
"This brief, four-day fishery will give us some indication of angler participation and the catch rates we would see with a fishery in the lower river," Whalen said.
Anglers will have a daily catch limit of seven hatchery chinook salmon (adipose fin-clipped), only two of which can be adult chinook. Anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery chinook salmon.
In addition, anglers must use single point barbless hooks no larger than 5/8 inch from point to shank. A night closure also is in effect.
Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit.
Whalen said fishery managers were able to provide the brief opportunity after in-season projections indicated good returns of spring chinook salmon to the upper Grande Ronde River.
"We're specifically targeting the Lostine chinook stock, which data shows tends to migrate through the river a month later than other chinook populations," Whalen said. "By allowing this opportunity now, we can fish for these late-arriving chinook while avoiding the majority of fish from other stocks."
To participate in this fishery, anglers must possess a valid 2014-15 fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries.
The Grande Ronde River fishery is co-managed by Washington and Oregon, where a similar chinook season will open concurrently.