OLYMPIA – The big returns of chinook salmon to the Columbia River that have resulted in excellent fishing off the Washington coast and in the lower Columbia River will soon provide fishing opportunities in the river's middle and upper reaches.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that summer chinook salmon fishing will open July 16 on the Columbia River in the Hanford area, in a section of the river above Priest Rapids Dam to Wells Dam, and another section further upstream from the Brewster area to Bridgeport.
The specific areas opening for chinook fishing are:
- From the Old Hanford townsite's wooden powerline crossing upstream to Priest Rapids Dam;
- The stretch of river from Priest Rapids Dam upstream to Wells Dam; and
- The stretch of river between the State Route 173 bridge near Brewster and the State Route 17 bridge at Bridgeport, including the extreme lower portion of the Okanogan River, downstream of the U.S. 97 bridge to the mouth.
The daily limit will be six salmon, but no more than two can be adult fish. All sockeye salmon and steelhead must be released unharmed. Coho salmon caught above Priest Rapids Dam must be released unharmed.
Steelhead have protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the National Marine Fisheries Service has ruled that this summer chinook fishery will not affect rebuilding efforts for steelhead or upper Columbia River spring chinook salmon, another listed species.
Spring chinook have, for the most part, already moved upriver and out of the areas opening for summer chinook fishing.
Tim Flint, WDFW statewide salmon manager, said the number of summer-run chinook salmon passing above the Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River greatly exceeds hatchery broodstock needs and also exceeds brood levels of natural escapement.
The Columbia River from the State Route 395 bridge in Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam will open for salmon fishing under permanent regulations Aug. 16. Anglers should consult the "Fishing in Washington" 2002/2003 sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations such as areas closed to fishing near dams.
These newly-announced fisheries come on the heels of exceptional chinook-fishing opportunities along the Washington coast and on the lower Columbia River, targeting healthy hatchery and wild chinook stocks. For the latest on salmon fishing opportunities, check out the WDFW's summer salmon fishing webpage, on the Internet, for the latest on fishing opportunities, regulations and other information.