WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

April 15, 2003
Contact: Tim Flint, (360) 902-2728

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Lower Columbia River spring chinook fishery to remain open for now

The spring chinook sport fishery in the lower Columbia River, from the I-5 Bridge downstream to Buoy 10, will remain open Wednesdays through Saturdays for now, but state fishery managers will meet again Tuesday (April 22) reconsider whether the fishery will be further modified.

That was the decision in a meeting today between Washington and Oregon fisheries managers to review the status of spring chinook returns in the Columbia River and consider potential modifications to fisheries.

Catches of upriver spring chinook have been higher than anticipated and are being closely monitored as the sport fishery continues. The upriver fish, destined for areas above Bonneville Dam including the Snake River and Upper Columbia, are protected stocks under the Endangered Species Act. Fish counts at Bonneville Dam indicate upriver fish are showing up earlier and in larger numbers than predicted in the overall run.

"We will need to continue to monitor the fisheries closely and be prepared to make changes as the run size is updated, " said Cindy LeFleur, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Columbia River fishery manager.

Earlier this month, state fishery managers closed fishing from the I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam and trimmed the lower river fishery from the I-5 bridge downstream to four days a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays, in an effort to allow sport fishing to remain open without exceeding the allowable impact on the protected upriver fish set in a 2001 management agreement.

Fishing in the area from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam will remain open under the previously adopted season.

So far in the sport season, approximately 123,000 angler trips have resulted in a catch of over 12,000 adipose-clipped hatchery spring chinook in the popular mainstem Columbia River fishery.