OLYMPIA - For the first time in two decades, a portion of the Snake River will open for fall chinook salmon fishing beginning Thursday (Sept. 25), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
An unexpectedly strong return of upriver bright chinook this year will allow the department to open the fishery on marked, hatchery-reared fish, said John Whalen, WDFW eastern region fish program manager.
"We're excited to be able to provide anglers this opportunity to fish for fall chinook on the Snake River," said Whalen. "This is the first Snake River fall chinook fishery for adult salmon retention since 1988."
The hatchery chinook fishery will be open from the Railroad Bridge crossing the Snake River, about a half-mile downstream of the mouth of the Tucannon River, upstream to the no-fishing zone below Little Goose Dam. Fishing will also be allowed from the safety zone boundary above the dam up to the south shore boat launch, about one mile upstream of Little Goose Dam.
Anglers may catch and keep one hatchery adult chinook salmon (24 inches or greater) and two hatchery chinook jacks (minimum size of 10 inches and a maximum size of 24 inches) per day. Hatchery fish can be identified by a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar.
Anglers must stop fishing for salmon once an adult hatchery chinook has been retained each day.
Coho salmon, wild chinook and wild steelhead must be immediately released unharmed without being removed from the water. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook and steelhead and night fishing is prohibited within the boundaries of the fishery.
Other fishing rules on the Snake River can be found in WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet, available at license dealers and WDFW offices or at /fishing/regulations .
"This fishery also will provide us valuable information that can be used to craft potential fall chinook fisheries in the future," Whalen said. "We'll monitor catch rates closely and we may need to close the fishery early depending on how the harvest goes."
The hatchery chinook fishery is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 15 but could close earlier if the allowable incidental impact to wild chinook is reached. The fishery is allowed under a federal permit that prescribes strict limits on the incidental catch of wild salmon that are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Whalen said the combination of an abundant return of wild and hatchery chinook and new allowable catch rates will allow the department to open the fishery.
The new catch rates were established in a new 10-year U.S. v. Oregon agreement, approved by a federal judge last month.
Parties to the U.S. v. Oregon agreement include the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho; federal resource agencies; and tribal governments.