OLYMPIA – Anglers gearing up to fish for hatchery spring chinook salmon in the Wind River should be aware that new regulations will be in effect when the season gets under way March 16.
Effective this year, anglers fishing the Wind River may retain only one – rather than two – hatchery spring chinook per day under regulations adopted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
In addition, the river will remain closed to all fishing upstream from a point 400 feet below Shipherd Falls until the catch-and-release season begins in September.
As in previous years, anglers will be required to release any wild, unmarked spring chinook they catch any time during the season.
In a year when chinook salmon returns to the Wind River are predicted to be down significantly, the new conservation measures are designed to ensure that enough spring chinook reach the Carson National Fish Hatchery to meet egg-take goals, said Craig Burley, WDFW regional fish manager.
“Spring chinook returned to the Wind in significantly lower numbers than expected last year, and this year’s forecast is lower still,” Burley said. “However, this run will be intensively monitored and we may be able to ease up on the fishing restrictions if actual returns are higher than expected.”
According to WDFW’s pre-season forecast, approximately 2,000 hatchery spring chinook are expected to return to the Wind River this year. Last year, the department forecast a return of 7,500 fish but only about 4,700 actually entered the river.
Burley noted that spring chinook returns to Drano Lake and the Klickitat River are also expected to fall short of last year’s totals, but not to the same degree as on the Wind River.
Fishing regulations for Drano Lake, which also opens for spring chinook March 16, and the Klickitat River, which opens April 1, will start out the same as last year, he said.
Those regulations are described in the 2006-07 Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available online at /fishing/regulations.
“If, on the other hand, actual returns are lower than expected, we might have to look at additional fishing restrictions at Drano Lake and the Klickitat River,” Burley said.
In addition to the new daily catch limit and area restriction, night closure and non-buoyant lure restriction will be in effect on the Wind River. Under that rule, only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.