OLYMPIA– For the first time in more than 30 years, a 23-mile section of the Snake River in the southeast corner of the state will open Thursday (April 25) for sport fishing for hatchery spring chinook salmon. Hatchery spring chinook fishing also will open the same day in another section of the river to the west near Little Goose Dam.
Fishing will be open from the Southway Bridge at Lewiston/Clarkston upstream to the Heller Bar boat ramp below the confluence of the Grande Ronde River. In addition, a 5- mile section of the river from the Texas Rapids boat launch upstream to the Corps of Engineers boat launch approximately one mile upstream of Little Goose Dam will open the same day for hatchery spring chinook.
Fishing is scheduled to continue Thursdays through Sundays through May 19 from a half-hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.
The fishery may end earlier than scheduled if the returning run size is significantly lower than expected or if projected impacts to protected wild fish are exceeded, cautioned Tim Flint, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) salmon manager.
The 2002 forecast for upriver spring chinook returning to the Snake River is 168,400 fish. Of that total, 44,900 are protected wild spring chinook.
Fishers are required to immediately release wild salmon and all steelhead unharmed. They are allowed a daily limit of one hatchery fish (identifiable by a missing adipose fin and healed scar) in the Clarkston area fishery, and two hatchery fish per day in the fishery near Little Goose Dam.
Besides uncertainty over the number of actual returns, fishers should be aware the run is later than expected, Flint added.
"The fish aren't there yet and we expect fishing will start off slow, " he said, adding that spring chinook counts as of yesterday tallied only 377 at Little Goose Dam and 212 at Lower Granite Dam.