OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is closing all fishing Oct. 7 near the Chandler power plant on the Yakima River east of Prosser in response to the illegal harvest of fall chinook salmon by snagging.
Under the emergency order, no fishing will be allowed within 400 feet feet of the power plant through Oct. 22, when the Yakima River fishery is scheduled to close.
Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fish biologist, said this year’s Yakima chinook run of approximately 2,500 fish is about one-third smaller than last year’s, but the harvest of nearly 300 fish to date is already more than three times greater than this time last year.
Hoffarth explained that anglers have been catching most of those salmon by snagging them immediately downstream from the Chandler hydroelectric powerhouse discharge area, located about eight miles east of Prosser. Yakima River water is diverted from Prosser Dam to the Chandler facility.
Snagging is an illegal fishing technique that involves attempting to catch fish with a hook and line in such a way that the fish does not voluntarily take the hook in its mouth.
Hoffarth said WDFW enforcement officers will cite anglers fishing in closed waters, a fine of $271. Snagging citations bring a $540 fine.
The Yakima chinook fishery is scheduled to run through Oct. 22 in areas of the river not affected by the emergency closure. However, angler catch rates are being monitored closely and the fishery may be closed earlier if harvest quotas are met, Hoffarth said.