Anglers awaiting the Buoy 10 fishery, which opens Aug. 1, are likely to encounter a near-record return of fall chinook salmon in numbers that will continue to build through August.
The fall chinook run, projected to total about 659,800 fish, is expected to be the second-largest return since 1948.
Typically, fishing action varies on opening day but builds throughout the month, said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish biologist Joe Hymer.
"Fishing should be smoking by mid to late August," Hymer said.
Adding to the action is the fact that about half the run is expected to be made up of "tules," lower Columbia hatchery-reared fish that are known for their strong performance on the line in the river estuary area.
Fishers are reminded that most of the Buoy 10 area– except for a narrow ribbon along the Washington shore– is in Oregon waters and subject to Oregon rules regarding party fishing. Although Washington moved recently to allow fishing to continue until every fisher on board catches his or her limit where a saltwater license is valid, Oregon still requires each fisher who has limited to stop fishing even if others have not caught their fish. Washington fishers are subject to Oregon rules while in most Buoy 10 waters.
Besides the fall chinook opportunity, Aug. 1 will also bring additional salmon fishing opportunity further upriver. Opportunities by area beginning Aug. 1 include:
- Buoy 10 (Buoy 10 line to the Rocky Point/Tongue Pointline) - Chinook, hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead. The daily limit is two salmon with a minimum size of 16 inches for coho and 24 inches for chinook. All chum, sockeye, and wild (unmarked) coho must be released. Two hatchery steelhead may be kept in addition to the salmon daily limit.
- Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to Bonneville Dam – Chinook and hatchery coho. Six salmon daily limit, no more than two of which may be adults. Minimum size 12 inches. All sockeye, chum, and wild (unmarked) coho must be released. Fishing for hatchery steelhead continues. In addition to the salmon daily limit, two hatchery steelhead may be retained.
- Bonneville Dam to Highway 395 bridge in Pasco – Open for chinook and coho. The daily limit is six salmon, no more than two of which may be adults. Minimum size 12 inches. All sockeye and chum must be released. Fishing for hatchery steelhead continues. In addition to the salmon daily limit, two hatchery steelhead may be retained.
Other areas above the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco currently are open for fishing under emergency rules. Anglers should consult the WDFW fishing hotline at (360) 902-2500 or the WDFW website at for information.