OLYMPIA – The fishery for spring chinook salmon on the Snake River will close this weekend due to high catch rates over the past week that have pushed the total harvest near the limit for the season.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that spring chinook fishing on the Snake River will close as of Saturday, May 14, below Ice Harbor Dam, and as of Monday, May 16, in the Little Goose and Clarkston areas.
All three areas were originally scheduled to remain open through the month, but a review of the harvest to date indicates the allowable catch will be reached sooner than expected, said John Whalen, WDFW eastern regional fish program manager.
“The fish were slow in getting to the Snake, but when they did arrive they came in large numbers,” Whalen said. “Fishing has been extremely good over the past week.”
The catch limit for the Snake River fishery is governed by a federal permit, because the wild portion of the run is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Whalen said there is a chance the fishery could reopen, noting that the forecast for this year’s spring chinook run was increased today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
“If the estimated run size keeps going up, anglers could be back on the Snake fishing for spring chinook,” Whalen said.
The section of the Snake River that closes May 14 at 12:01 a.m. extends from the southbound Highway 12 Bridge at Pasco upstream about seven miles to the fishing restriction boundary about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.
Sections of the Snake that close May 16 at 12:01 a.m. range from:
- The Railroad Bridge about one-half mile downstream of Tucannon River mouth, upriver about nine miles to the Corps of Engineers boat launch about one mile upstream of Little Goose Dam (along the south shore). This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (including the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility).
- The intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with the Highway 193 (Snake River Road) in Whitman County upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line that runs from the north termination of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch (near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office) northwest across the Snake River to the Idaho/Washington marker on the north shore in Whitman County.
Until the scheduled closures, the daily catch limit is two adipose-fin-clipped spring chinook adults and four adipose-fin-clipped jacks. One exception is that in the shoreline area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (including the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility), the daily catch limit is one jack and one adult.
For areas open for chinook, anglers must cease fishing for salmon for the day when they retain the adult daily limit.
For further information about rules governing this fishery, see the Emergency Rule at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.