OLYMPIA - Chinook salmon fishing will close at the end of the day Sunday (May 11) on sections of the Snake and mid-Columbia rivers originally scheduled to remain open through mid-June, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
With returns of spring chinook salmon falling short of expectations, the early closures are necessary to avoid additional incidental catch of protected runs, said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River harvest manager.
The closures were triggered by a new spring chinook run forecast of 180,000, down from 269,300 fish initially projected by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon, she said.
"This is an unfortunate situation," LeFleur said. "Many of these fisheries were just getting started, but an updated run forecast indicates we need to take action on these spring chinook fisheries."
Waters affected by the early closure include:
- The Columbia River near the Ringold Springs Rearing Facility in Franklin County from the markers downstream from the Ringold irrigation wasteway outlet to the markers half a mile upstream from Ringold Springs Creek.
- The Snake River, from the railroad bridge crossing the mouth of the river upstream to the no fishing zone 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.
- The Snake River, from the Texas Rapids boat launch upstream seven miles to the boat launch approximately one mile upstream of Little Goose Dam.
Those will be the last fisheries directed at spring chinook to close in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, LeFleur said.
Sport and commercial fisheries below Bonneville Dam have been closed since mid-April, and the recreational fishery between Bonneville and McNary dams is scheduled to close at the end of the day tomorrow (May 10).
Columbia River treaty tribes have also agreed to close all mainstem spring chinook fisheries - including year-round platform fisheries - Sunday (May 11) in response to the run shortfall.
"This may not provide much solace for anglers who enjoy fishing areas of the Snake and mid-Columbia River that are closing early, but it does indicate the level of concern about this year’s spring chinook run," LeFleur said.
LeFleur noted that fishery managers from Washington and Oregon plan to meet Monday (May 12) to consider additional closures for fisheries that have only incidental impacts on upriver spring chinook. Although nothing has yet been decided, they may decide to close the steelhead fishery below Bonneville Dam, she said.
Information about any further closures will be posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/.