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April 21, 2011
Contact: WDFW Region 5 Office, (360) 696-6211

Spring chinook fishery extended
through May 1 above Bonneville Dam

OLYMPIA – The fishery for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon has been extended through May 1 on a section of the Columbia River stretching 163.5 miles above Bonneville Dam.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed Wednesday to extend the fishery – previously scheduled through April 24 – citing poor fishing conditions that also curbed catch rates on the lower Columbia River.

“The fishery above Bonneville Dam is just getting started,” said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Anglers have just scratched the harvest guideline for that area.”

Test fisheries have found relatively high concentrations of spring chinook salmon moving toward Bonneville Dam, but LeFleur said high, turbid water conditions have made them hard to catch with a hook and line and delayed their passage over the dam.

Approval for the fishing extension above the dam came just one day after a 12-day extension in the lower river came to an end.

Above Bonneville Dam, fishing for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon remains open to boat and bank anglers seven days a week between the Tower Island powerlines below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank fishing is also allowed from Bonneville Dam upriver to the powerlines located about 6 miles below The Dalles Dam.

Anglers fishing above Bonneville Dam can retain up to two marked, hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon or hatchery steelhead as part of their daily limit. All wild salmon and wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

Harvest guidelines for spring chinook fisheries above and below Bonneville Dam are based on a projected return of 198,400 upriver fish, minus a 30 percent “buffer” to guard against overestimating the run. LeFleur said additional fishing time may be allowed in both areas if a run update in May shows that returns will reach or exceed the pre-season forecast.