Columbia River commercial fisheries

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife expects to conduct an emerging commercial fishery season for beach seines, purse seines, and pound nets on the lower Columbia River in fall 2024. 

The Columbia River has a long history of commercial fishing, an activity that continues today and provides thousands of Washington residents with fresh, locally caught seafood while supporting the economic well-being of communities along the river.

Like recreational fishing, commercial fishing on the Columbia River mainstem is managed in cooperation with other state, federal, and tribal co-managers through the US v. Oregon Management Agreement, and the Columbia River Compact process, as well as statewide salmon season-setting conducted as part of the North of Falcon process. Fishing occurs at specific times and areas, with catch limits determined by the size of the runs and the number of allowable impacts to species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Gillnets and tangle nets are the primary methods of commercial fishing on the river, but the Columbia River Salmon Fishery Management Policy, adopted in September 2020, emphasizes the development of alternatives to these types of gear. Learn more about commercial fishing gear and selective fishing on the Columbia River.

To learn more about Columbia River Commercial Fisheries, check out our Columbia River Commercial Fishing Advisory Group page. 

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Columbia River commercial landings

For information about Columbia River commercial landings, please visit the following links. 

Columbia River commercial fishery landings (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Joint-state staff reports developed as part of the Columbia River Compact process.

Commercial fishing areas and gear types

Fishing areas

Map of sections of the Columbia River
Map depicting commercial fishing "zones" of the lower Columbia River, along with landmarks denoting key regulatory sections on the river.

Gill nets

Gillnet illustration
Photo by WDFW

These large-mesh nets are used in selective fishing, targeting certain stocks or species, and avoiding others by fishing at specific times in specific areas, and by using large mesh sizes that allow smaller-bodied fish like steelhead to pass through the net, while also targeting the large-sized Chinook.

Tangle nets

Tangle net illustration
Photo by WDFW

Tangle nets are small-mesh nets that entangle the target fish to minimize injury instead of catching them by their gills. Tangle nets have low encounters of non-target steelhead due to the specific times and areas they are fished, along with the method of entangling fish. Because of this, it works well for spring Chinook and coho.