OLYMPIA – So many summer chinook salmon have returned to the upper Columbia River that a recreational fishery for chinook will be opened Aug. 30 on the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Fisheries managers estimate escapement necessary for natural production is 3,500 summer chinook above Wells Dam. Through the third week of August more than 60,000 summer chinook had passed Wells Dam.
The new fishery expands recreational fishing from the mainstem Columbia River into tributary streams. Both hatchery and naturally produced summer chinook are available for harvest.
WDFW Fisheries Biologist Heather Bartlett said usually the Okanogan River's warm water conditions in late summer preclude the temperature-sensitive chinook from moving farther upstream. However, this year's prolonged snowmelt and cool evenings in early August kept water temperatures within tolerable limits, and the chinook are moving upstream into the Okanogan and Similkameen systems.
Areas that will open include:
- Okanogan River, from the Highway 97 bridge crossing near Brewster to 1/4 mile downstream of the railroad trestle near Zosel Dam.
- Similkameen River, from the confluence with the Okanogan River upstream to the city bridge crossing at Oroville.
The daily limit is six salmon, but no more than two adults can be retained. All sockeye, coho and steelhead must be released unharmed, and night fishing is not allowed.