Washington and Oregon have agreed to open a three-day sport fishery from Sunday (May 6) through Tuesday (May 8) to target hatchery spring chinook from The Dalles Dam to McNary Dam.
As with previous fisheries on the main stem Columbia this spring, the daily bag limit is six fish, of which no more than two may be adults. Only adipose fin-clipped hatchery salmon may be kept; any wild fish – with the adipose fin still intact – must be immediately released unharmed.
The three-day fishery comes on the heels of the a main stem sport fishery that lasted well into April on the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam downstream to Buoy 10. The lower Columbia spring chinook sport fishery totaled 176,000 angler trips and resulted in 26,000 hatchery fish caught.
The new fishery that begins Sunday was set to allow recreational fishing opportunity for anglers between The Dalles and McNary dams. It will be the first spring chinook fishery in that area since 1977.
All the Columbia fisheries were prompted by a record return of 400,000 fish destined to areas above Bonneville Dam. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists have attributed the large return to good water flows in 1998 and 1999, when the salmon were out-migrating to the ocean, and to good ocean conditions during their ocean-rearing phase.
The fisheries were made possible by a multi-year conservation agreement reached earlier this year by the Columbia River Treaty tribes, the federal government and the two states. The agreement allows fisheries to be set based on numbers of returning fish, so that conservation goals for wild fish may be met.
While sport fishing for salmon and steelhead remains closed in the main stem Columbia between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam, sport fishing opportunities continue for spring chinook in Columbia tributaries including Wind River, Drano Lake, the Klickitat River and White Salmon River. Opportunity also exists in the Lewis and Kalama rivers below Bonneville Dam. A fishery for hatchery spring chinook was recently opened on the Snake River and is expected to run through May.
Other upcoming sport fishing opportunities include:
- Spring chinook fishery on the Icicle River from Leavenworth Hatchery downstream to the mouth, opening May 7 and running through July 22.
- Hatchery steelhead fishery on the main stem Columbia River from the I-5 bridge to Rocky Point/Tongue Point line, opening May 16.
- Hatchery steelhead fishery on the main stem Columbia River from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco to the I-5 bridge, opening June 16.
- Fall salmon fishery on the main stem Columbia River from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco downstream to Buoy 10, opening Aug. 1.
Anglers are reminded to check the WDFW sport fishing rules pamphlet, "Fishing in Washington" for details, including bag limits, gear and license requirements. The new 2001 "Fishing in Washington" pamphlet is now available at WDFW regional offices and most sporting goods stores.