Summer Chinook salmon fishing to open in July on much of Columbia River

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WDFW Fish Program, 360-902-2700

OLYMPIA – With the summer Chinook salmon run exceeding preseason expectations, large portions of the Columbia River will open to recreational Chinook fishing in July, fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced Wednesday.  

Chinook fishing on the Columbia River will be open July 4-8 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line upstream to the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco.  

Farther upriver, Chinook fishing will also open beginning July 4 along the Hanford Reach from the Interstate 182 bridge to Priest Rapids Dam, as well as Priest Rapids Dam to Wells Dam and from the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster to Foster Creek in Douglas County.  

The portion of the river from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster will open July 16. This later opener helps protect spring Chinook listed under the Endangered Species Act that migrate through and hold in that area of the Columbia River. 

The preseason forecast for summer Chinook at the mouth of the Columbia River was 38,000 fish, but managers on Monday upgraded the forecast to 65,000 based on returns so far. Washington and Oregon fishery managers agreed in a hearing Tuesday that the run could support a brief opening on the mainstem, said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fishery manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Managers will reassess the fishery early next week with updated catch estimates. 

“The run is tracking above what we expected this year, which is great news, but we’re still carefully monitoring these fisheries to ensure we’re achieving our conservation goals for all the species that share the river,” Lothrop said.  

Sockeye and steelhead fishing closed on the lower Columbia River mainstem below the Highway 395 bridge in late June after early sockeye catch rates exceeded expectations. Historically, a high proportion of the sockeye run passes Bonneville Dam by July 4, so impacts to those sockeye as a result of the mainstem Chinook fishery should be minimal, and any extension of the fishery downstream of Highway 395 will be dependent on sockeye impacts, Lothrop said.   

Steelhead fishing remains closed below the Highway 395 bridge, as it would likely result in additional impacts to sockeye.   

The river remains closed to salmon and steelhead fishing between the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco and the Interstate 182 bridge. Sockeye fishing is open above the Interstate 182 bridge, as Snake River sockeye exit the Columbia by that point.  

The opening dates and daily limits for the Columbia River are as follows:  

  • From the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco: July 4 through July 8, 2020. Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 2 may be adult hatchery Chinook. Minimum size 12”. Anglers must release all steelhead and salmon except hatchery Chinook.  
  • From the Interstate-182 bridge to Priest Rapids Dam: July 4 through July 31, 2020. Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 2 adults may be retained. Minimum size 12”. Release wild adult Chinook and coho.  
  • From Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam: July 4 through Aug. 31, 2020. Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 2 may be adult hatchery Chinook and up to 2 may be sockeye. Minimum size 12”. Release wild adult Chinook and coho. 
  • From Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam: July 4 through Oct. 15, 2020. Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 2 may be adult hatchery Chinook and up to 2 may be sockeye. Minimum size 12”. Release wild adult Chinook and coho. 
  • From Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster: July 16 through Sept. 15, 2020. Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 2 may be adult hatchery Chinook and up to 2 may be sockeye. Minimum size 12”. Release wild adult Chinook and coho. 
  • From the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster to the rock jetty at the upstream shoreline of Foster Creek (Douglas County side): July 4 through Oct. 15, 2020. Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 2 may be adult hatchery Chinook and up to 2 may be sockeye. Minimum size 12”. Release wild adult Chinook and coho. 

The Entiat and Chelan rivers will also open for Chinook on July 16; see the emergency rules page at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ for more information, and for updates to other fisheries. 

Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon downstream of the Washington/Oregon border; barbed hooks are permitted above the border. See all rules and regulations in the 2020-21 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.  

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.  

 

Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email (dolores.noyes@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.