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May 07, 2002
Contact: Craig Burley, (360) 696-6211
or Cindy Le Fleur, (360) 906-6708

Columbia River spring chinook season lengthened; limits increased on two tributaries

OLYMPIA – Sport fishing for hatchery spring chinook has been extended through May 15 on the lower Columbia River, and daily bag limits will be raised beginning Thursday (May 9) to four fish on the Wind River and Drano Lake, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has announced.

Both changes result from updated projections of the upriver spring chinook run, which has returned later than usual this year. Initially, scientists had forecast a return of 333,700 fish– the second largest on record. The current projection is for a run of 309,000 fish.

The mainstem Columbia River sport fishery was closed for six days from April 29 to May 4, based on earlier in-season projections, but now will continue as anticipated prior to the season.

Continued high run counts at Bonneville Dam, cumulatively tallied at 200,500 through yesterday, allow fishing to be extended for an extra week on the river from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam. Fishing for hatchery steelhead and shad also remains open.

The daily limit on the lower Columbia is six hatchery (adipose-fin clipped ) chinook, of which only two may be adults, with a minimum size of 12 inches. The daily limit for trout is two fish, with a minimum size of 12 inches. Wild steelhead and wild cutthroat must be released.

Meanwhile, the strengthening spring chinook run also means an increase beginning Thursday in Wind River and Drano Lake daily bag limits for salmon and hatchery steelhead to four fish, of which no more than two may be hatchery steelhead.

That change, effective through June 30, was made after in-season monitoring of the run indicated large numbers of fish were returning to the Carson and Little White Salmon national fish hatcheries.

Beginning May 16, fishing regulations will revert to permanent rules. Anglers should consult the 2002/2003 "Fishing in Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet for further information.