OLYMPIA – Fishing for adult summer chinook salmon will close at the end of the day July 2 in a section of the Columbia River that had been scheduled to remain open throughout the month.
The early closure affects salmon fishing in the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to Priest Rapids Dam near the Hanford Reach.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon attributed the early closure, approved by both states today, to a combination of high catch rates below Bonneville Dam and lower-than-expected numbers of chinook passing the dam.
“The number of fish available for harvest is based on the number of fish entering the Columbia River,” said Pat Frazier, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The problem this year is that anglers caught more fish than anticipated even though fewer fish than expected have actually returned to the lower river.”
By July 2, the cumulative catch is expected to meet or exceed the annual quota of 1,650 summer chinook salmon allocated for the recreational fishery below Priest Rapids Dam, Frazier said. Most of those fish, he said, were caught below Bonneville Dam, where the fishery is scheduled to close at the end of the day June 30.
“We never like to close fisheries early,” Frazier said. “But the summer chinook run is healthy, and we want to keep it that way.”
Based on pre-season estimates, a total of 45,600 summer chinook salmon are expected to return to the Columbia River this year.
While the fishery for adult chinook is set to close on the Columbia River, Frazier noted that anglers can still catch and keep two hatchery summer steelhead per day between Rocky Point/Tongue Point upriver to the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco. Anglers are also allowed to keep six “jack” salmon measuring at least 12 inches and less than 24. All sockeye salmon must be released.
The area above Priest Rapids Dam will open to summer chinook fishing as scheduled on July 1, and fall salmon fishing will open on the Columbia beginning Aug. 1.