OLYMPIA – For the first time since the late 1960s, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will open fishing for hatchery spring chinook salmon on the Snake River in southeast Washington.
The recreational fishing season will open one hour before official sunrise on Tuesday (May 1) and will end one hour after official sunset on May 31, to coincide with anticipated peak numbers of returning hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon. The pre-season forecast is for 206,700 salmon to return to the Snake River.
The mainstem Snake River will be open from Texas Rapids above the mouth of the Tucannon River upstream to Red Wolf Bridge at Clarkston; all permanent closure areas around dams remain in effect. Barbless hooks will be required, and only hatchery salmon, identified by a missing adipose fin and healed scar, may be retained. All wild salmon and steelhead must be immediately released unharmed. The daily bag limit is two hatchery fish at least 12 inches in size.
The fishery is made possible by a multi-year conservation agreement reached earlier this year by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Columbia River Treaty tribes and the states of Washington and Oregon. Angler catch rates will be monitored closely, and the Snake River fishery may be shortened or extended pending mid-season evaluations.
WDFW scientists attribute the large return of spring chinook to the Columbia and Snake rivers this spring to good outflow conditions within the river systems in 1998 and 1999 and to improved ocean-rearing conditions.