OLYMPIA – The sport fishery for spring chinook salmon will reopen Wednesday (May 16) on the lower Columbia River, the same day that fishing for shad and hatchery steelhead opens in the lower river.
Fishery managers for Washington and Oregon today agreed to reopen the sport fishery for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon from the Interstate 5 bridge downstream to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
The fishery is scheduled to remain open through May 31, unless catch rates are higher than expected, said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“The run is tracking very closely with our pre-season forecast,” LeFleur said. “That means that we can open up the lower Columbia for a couple more weeks of late-season spring chinook fishing.”
The daily catch limit is six hatchery salmon – identified by a clipped adipose fin – only two of which may be adult fish. Wild chinook and steelhead, as well as all chum and sockeye salmon, must be released.
Spring chinook fishing has been closed since April 15 below Bonneville Dam on the mainstem Columbia to determine if the upriver run will reach 78,500 fish, as predicted before the season began Jan. 1.
“We’re now fairly confident the run will be pretty close to that by the time the returns tail off in mid-June,” LeFleur said. “The peak of the run is over, but there are still a lot of spring chinook available for harvest.”
Sport fisheries for shad and summer-run steelhead also get under way Wednesday in the lower Columbia River, providing a variety of fishing options, LeFleur said.
“Anglers are also doing really well on the Lewis, Kalama and other area rivers right now, so it’s a great time to get out on the water,” she said.
Anglers planning to fish any of these waters should check WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations) or Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500) for regulations now in effect, LeFleur said.