OLYMPIA - Several new fishing opportunities for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon are opening up on the Columbia and Snake rivers as the season enters its final leg.
With approximately 2,700 upriver chinook still available for harvest, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to expand or reopen fisheries in the several areas.
- Below Bonneville Dam: Starting Friday (May 27), boat anglers will be allowed to fish for spring chinook from Beacon Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. This four-mile area, previously open for bank fishing only, will remain open for both kinds of fishing on the lower river through June 15.
- Above Bonneville Dam: Starting Saturday (May 28), the boat and bank fishery will reopen through June 2 from the Tower Island power lines upriver to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles from McNary Dam. Bank fishing will also be allowed from Bonneville Dam upriver to the power lines, located six miles below The Dalles Dam.
- Snake River: Also starting Saturday (May 28), the spring chinook fishery will reopen through June 2 in the Little Goose and Clarkston areas of the Snake River.
Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the states may consider granting additional fishing time if enough fish are still available for harvest under the upriver catch guideline.
According to the most recent update, 213,400 upriver spring chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River system this year. Under this year’s catch guideline for recreational fisheries, 2,700 are still available for harvest.
"The high water we’ve experienced in the Columbia River has slowed catch rates in many areas this season," LeFleur said. "But anglers are still catching some nice fish, and we’re glad to be able to extend that opportunity."
Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist, noted that recent catch surveys show that anglers fishing along the banks of the lower river have had higher success rates than those fishing from boats.
"Bank anglers have some real advantages right now," Hymer said. "Not only are they catching more fish, it’s also safer under these high-water conditions."
Below Bonneville Dam, anglers may retain one adult spring chinook salmon marked with a clipped adipose fin as part of their daily catch limit. Above Bonneville, the daily limit can include two marked hatchery adult chinook salmon. All unmarked chinook and steelhead must be released unharmed.
Sockeye salmon and hatchery-reared steelhead also count toward anglers’ daily limit.
The two areas opening to spring chinook fishing on the Snake River include:
- The Little Goose area, which extends from the Railroad Bridge about one-half mile downstream from the mouth of the Tucannon River, upriver about nine miles to the Corps of Engineers boat launch, about a mile upstream of Little Goose Dam.
- The Clarkston area, which extends from the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line.
In these areas of the Snake River, the daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped spring chinook adults and four adipose-fin-clipped jacks. One exception is the shoreline area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility, where the daily catch limit is one jack and one adult. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing in the Snake River.
For more information about fishing regulation changes on the Columbia and Snake rivers, check for "emergency rule changes" on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.