OLYMPIA-Selective sport fisheries have been set on what is expected to be a robust run of spring chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River this year.
Fishing will open Saturday (Feb. 15) from the Interstate 5 bridge upriver to McNary Dam for hatchery spring chinook. Within Bonneville Pool, only the area from the Tower Island powerlines upstream to The Dalles Dam will be open. Besides marked (adipose fin-clipped) chinook, shad and hatchery steelhead may also be retained. The fishery is expected to remain open through May 15.
The large anticipated return of spring chinook also has prompted fish managers to extend sport fishing currently open in the lower Columbia from Buoy 10 to the I-5 bridge through May 15.
Fish biologists forecast a return of 145,400 upriver spring chinook bound for areas above Bonneville Dam. The projected run would be about half the size of last year's near-record return and the fourth largest in the past decade. The Willamette run is expected to number nearly 110,000 fish, the second-largest return since 1991.
The recreational fishery in the lower Columbia, which will target 11,000 hatchery salmon, is being conducted under a 2001 federal, state and tribal management agreement for spring chinook that allows selective fishing while minimizing impacts to protected wild fish. Fishing may close prior to May 15 if necessary to protect wild upriver fish.
In the sport fishery, the daily bag limit for salmon is six fish with a minimum size of 12 inches, no more than two of which may be adults. The daily limit for trout (including hatchery steelhead) is two fish, with a minimum size of 12 inches. There is no daily limit for shad in Washington waters. All wild (unmarked) chinook and steelhead must be released unharmed.