OLYMPIA -- A higher return of upriver spring chinook than predicted in the pre-season forecast is prompting Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to reopen the sport fishery on the lower Columbia River main stem for five more days beginning Wednesday (April 25).
The fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, April 25 and will close at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 29. As before, fishing will be open on the Columbia River main stem from the Bonneville Dam downstream to Buoy 10. And as before, the fishery targets marked, hatchery-reared fish.
The reopening is a continuation of the highly successful fishery that took place through April 17 in the lower Columbia main stem. The fishery was closed beginning Wednesday, when catch numbers met the sport allocation agreed to earlier by the two states. The fishery was made possible by a multi-year, abundance-based conservation agreement between the federal government, the Columbia River Treaty tribes and the two states. The sport allocation and earlier season were based on a pre-season return forecast of 364,600 salmon.
Washington and Oregon agreed today during a conference call to formally update the return to 440,000 fish and to reopen of the lower Columbia fishery based on fish counts at the Bonneville Dam and run-time and run-portion calculations. The daily dam count peaked at 27,000 fish on Wednesday (April 18).
"The updated return gives us more fish to catch for the sport allocation and more we can expect to make it upriver to spawn," said WDFW Fish Biologist Cindy LeFleur. "Water conditions are very similar to 1977, which was the earliest return on record. This year's return appears to be tracking fairly closely with the 1977 run timing."
By the time the fishery closed earlier this week, anglers had caught 22,900 fish from a total of 147,000 angler trips, making it the largest sport catch since 1973. It has been the first season since 1977 that anglers have been able to fish well into the month of April for spring chinook.
Anglers may keep only fish with the adipose fin clipped and a healed scar at the site where the fin was removed. Any fish with the fin intact must be released immediately unharmed. Up to six fish may be kept daily, only two of which may be adults. In addition hatchery steelhead and shad may be kept in this fishery. Fisheries also continue on several Columbia tributaries. For more details on regulations and license requirements, refer to the WDFW website or call the WDFW sport fishing hotline, (360) 902-2500.