OLYMPIA – The first fishing in about 40 years for spring chinook salmon in the upper Yakima River in south central Washington's Kittitas County will open this weekend, June 10-11.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is allowing fishing for eight days over four consecutive weekends so that anglers can benefit from the highest Yakima chinook run since records have been kept. WDFW is treating the limited season as a test fishery to gain information to prepare for an even greater run of fish expected next year.
Chinook salmon fishing in the upper Yakima River will be allowed June 10-11, June 17-18, June 24-25 and July 1-2 during daylight hours only.
The open fishing area includes over 49 miles of the upper Yakima River, from WDFW's Teanaway Junction public access/boat ramp (river mile 177.7) near the intersection of Hwy. 970 and Hwy.10 (approximately 3 miles east of the City of Cle Elum and 2 miles east of I-90 Exit 85),downstream to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Roza Access Area/boat ramp at the head of the Roza Dam pool (river mile 128.4) off of State Route 821 (Yakima Canyon Highway).
The daily catch limit is one salmon (adult or jack) retained or released. No catch-and- release salmon fishing is permitted; salmon fishing ends for the day after catching one salmon, whether the angler chooses to retain or release the fish. If a salmon has swallowed the hook or is hooked in the gills, eye or tongue, it must be retained because of the low chance of survival. Retained salmon must be recorded promptly on the catch record card that anglers receive with their fishing licenses; those fishing without a license during Free Fishing Weekend, June 10-11, must also record catches on a free card.
A non-buoyant lure restriction will also be in effect to minimize the potential of snagging. Non-buoyant (sinking) flies and lures will be required to use a single pointed hook (barbed or barbless) measuring between 1/2 and 3/4-inch from point to shank. Buoyant (floating) lures may be used with one or multiple treble, barbed hooks, provided the hook gap measures between 1/2 and 3/4-inch from point to shank. Treble hooks are not permitted on sinking lures and flies. The 1/2 inch minimum hook gap requirement on both single and treble hooks is intended to minimize hooking of smaller, resident rainbow trout which must be released under the current catch-and-release regulation.
Other regulations in effect for this fishery are:
- Night fishing closure: closed from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.
- No fishing from any floating device equipped with a motor
- Bait prohibited; only unscented lures or flies with barbed or barbless hooks allowed, subject to the non-buoyant lure restrictions
- Closed waters: from Town Diversion Dam downstream 400 feet (located between Ellensburg and Thorp off Hwy. 10)
"This fishery is biologically conservative even though the run is very large and Yakima basin spring chinook are not listed as threatened or endangered," said WDFW regional fish program manager John Easterbrooks of Yakima. "We want to go slow and gain experience in setting and monitoring this fishery so that we can sustain it in the future."
"Even with this harvest we anticipate the highest spawning ground redd count in recent history," Easterbrooks said. "Given good water supply conditions in 2001, we'll likely see the largest crop of wild salmon smolts here in 50 years."
"This fishery is consist with the overall intent of WDFW to provide opportunity where we can while protecting and rebuilding wild runs of salmon," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.