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June 02, 2005
Contact: Cindy LeFleur, 360-906-6708

Columbia River will reopen for spring chinook fishing

OLYMPIA - Fishing will reopen Saturday (June 4) for hatchery spring chinook salmon in a portion of the Columbia River that has been closed to salmon anglers since late April due to lagging returns.

Encouraged by a late surge of chinook past Bonneville Dam, fisheries managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to reopen the fishery from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco.

In addition, they agreed to:

  • Require anglers to release any wild chinook they catch in the same area, when summer chinook fishing begins June 16; and

  • Open the fishery for hatchery steelhead above the Interstate 5 bridge Saturday (June 4) - two weeks ahead of schedule - to coincide with the remainder of the spring chinook season.

"Fisheries on the Columbia River have been hit hard this year," said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River harvest manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "These actions will provide a limited opportunity for some additional angling, while continuing joint efforts to protect wild chinook runs."

Under fishing rules adopted by both states, anglers must release any chinook salmon or steelhead that are not marked as hatchery fish. For chinook salmon, that rule previously applied only through the end of the spring season, June 15, but has now been extended through the summer fishery.

The daily catch limit for chinook is six fish, only two of which may be adults. For steelhead, the daily limit is two hatchery fish at least 20 inches in length.

The spring chinook fishery on the Columbia River was closed April 21, when only a fraction of the 50,000 fish expected by that time had passed Bonneville Dam. Recent counts indicate a upriver run of 95,000 spring chinook, enough to resume the fishery without exceeding federal "impact limits" on wild salmon, LeFleur said.