Thanks to a recent surge in the returning Columbia River fall chinook run, sport fishers will be allowed to continue keeping chinook salmon in the lower river through the end of the year.
In a meeting today, fishery managers for Washington and Oregon decided to drop a recently imposed Sept. 30 deadline on chinook retention in the lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam.
The latest change was prompted by a recent spike in returning chinook counts, said Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River harvest manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The return of upriver bright fall chinook, which had been forecast at 287,000 fish, is now projected to reach 358,000 by the end of the run, Le Fleur said.
Columbia River fall salmon fisheries are structured to avoid excessive impacts to Snake River wild upriver-bright fall chinook, which have protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The reversal means that a planned Oct. 1 release requirement for chinook in the mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point -Tongue Point line to Bonneville Dam will be dropped.
The salmon daily limit in the area continues to be six fish, only two of which may be adults. Only one of the adult salmon may be a chinook. All chum, sockeye and wild coho must be released. The area is also open for retention of hatchery steelhead.
Fall chinook fishing also remains open in the mainstem river above Bonneville Dam and in most Washington tributaries. Beginning Oct. 1, chinook retention also will be allowed from Rocky Reach Dam up to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster. This area was previously closed for steelhead protection.