OLYMPIA - With Columbia River spring chinook salmon counts continuing to lag far behind projections, Washington and Oregon fish managers have agreed to close salmon fishing in the mainstem river beginning Thursday (April 21).
Fishing will close at 12:01 a.m., April 21, in the entire mainstem river below McNary Dam, the state fisheries managers announced today. The action also closes all fishing for steelhead and shad in the mainstem river. Fishing will remain open under state rules for hatchery spring chinook and other species in Columbia River tributaries, including the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Wind and Klickitat rivers, as well as Drano Lake.
The early fishing closure in the mainstem river was prompted by a continued shortfall in the numbers of chinook passing Bonneville Dam. As of April 18, only 1,544 chinook had been counted at the dam. The low counts prompted state fish managers to warn anglers last week that an early fishing closure was possible.
Based on 10-year-average counts, more than 50,000 chinook normally would have passed the dam by this point in the year.
Pre-season projections were for a total returning run of 254,100 upriver spring chinook and 116,900 Willamette River-bound fish.
Fishery managers will continue to monitor the status of the run on a daily basis and can reopen fisheries if warranted.
Through April 17, sport fishers had made 96,500 angler trips, handled 11,200 chinook and kept 8,700 hatchery fish.
Last year, sport spring chinook fishing closed May 1 in the lower Columbia River below the Interstate 5 bridge.