OLYMPIA – A section of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon tomorrow (April 26), while two other sections of the river near Little Goose Dam and Clarkston will open Sunday (April 28).
Each section of the river is scheduled to be open two days per week. The section of the river below Ice Harbor Dam will be open Friday and Saturday each week, while the sections of the river near Little Goose Dam and Clarkston are scheduled to be open Sunday and Monday each week.
All three sections are open until further notice, but the fishery is not expected to remain open for more than a few weeks, said Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The fishery will close when the Snake River harvest allocation is met or allowable impacts on wild stocks reach federal limits, he said.
“With a lower run-size forecast this year for Columbia River spring chinook, we will likely approach those limits sooner rather than later,” said Mendel.
A total of 58,200 spring chinook salmon are expected to return to the Snake River Basin this year, including 39,300 hatchery fish. Last year’s forecast anticipated a return of 168,000 spring chinook, with 129,000 hatchery fish.
The daily catch limit for most of the open areas is one hatchery adult chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – and four hatchery jacks measuring less than 24 inches.
The exception is the area along the south shoreline of the Little Goose Dam (including “the wall”) upstream to the juvenile-bypass return pipe, where anglers may retain only one adult hatchery chinook salmon and one hatchery jack per day.
In all areas, anglers are required to use barbless hooks, and must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult chinook salmon. All chinook with an adipose fin, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.
“Our ability to closely monitor this fishery, as required by federal permit, is due in large part to funds from the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement,” said Mendel. “Without the monitoring, we wouldn’t be able to open this fishery.”
The endorsement, required of all anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River system (which includes the Snake River), costs $8.75; seniors and youth pay $7.10.
The section of the Snake River scheduled to open April 26 is:
- Below Ice Harbor Dam: Extends from the Highway 12 Bridge at Pasco upstream about seven miles to about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.
The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 28 are:
- Near Little Goose Dam: Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river approximately 3.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility.
- Near Clarkston: From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Idaho/Washington marker on the north shore.
Mendel strongly encourages anglers to review the fishing rule change, posted on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1296.
General fishing regulations for the Snake River effective through April 30 are available in the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/). The new sport fishing rules pamphlet for 2013-14 also is available on that webpage.