Sportfishing for fall chinook salmon will close after Sept. 30 on the lower Columbia River, fishery managers for Washington and Oregon agreed today.
The closure takes effect at 12:01 a.m., Oct. 1, and means that effective that date fishers will be required to release any chinook they catch unharmed. Hatchery coho and steelhead may still be retained.
Columbia River fall salmon fisheries are structured to avoid excessive impacts to Snake River wild upriver-bright chinook salmon, which have protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The retention closure applies to the mainstem Columbia from the Rocky Point /Tongue Point/ line upstream to Bonneville Dam. The Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River closed to chinook retention earlier this month.
Fall chinook fishing will remain open in the mainstem river above Bonneville Dam and in most Washington tributaries. Fishing for hatchery coho and steelhead also remains open on the lower Columbia River through the end of the year.
Sport anglers are expected to catch approximately 15,000 chinook in the lower Columbia from Bonneville Dam to Rocky Point by the time chinook retention ends there.
Fish managers had been considering an earlier closure for chinook retention on the lower river because catch rates were higher than anticipated, but a stronger-than-expected chinook run made it possible to prolong the retention period through the end of the month. Allowing sport retention through the end of September was one of the goals of the pre-season allocation agreement for the fall fishery, noted Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River Policy Coordinator with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.