Clackamas, Ore. —State fishery officials met today and agreed to re-open the mainstem Columbia River recreational salmon fishery for retention of chinook salmon from Buoy 10 to the Hood River Bridge at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 due to recently improved counts of fall chinook at Bonneville Dam.
The Technical Advisory Committee, which monitors run sizes, met on Sept. 24 and determined that the upriver bright fall chinook run has improved since the fishery was closed earlier on Sept. 19. The run is currently expected to come in at about 118,500 upriver bright fall chinook which is still lower than the preseason prediction of 182,500, but enough of an improvement to re-open the fishery.
“We’ve been watching the run and projecting potential catch for different opening days for the last week or so,” says Chris Kern, ODFW Assistant Columbia River Fisheries Manager. “An opening date of Sept. 29 was our best estimate of when we thought we could open the fishery and be relatively sure we’d be able to continue through the season without further modifications. Of course, since the quota is based on run size, any significant changes to estimated run size will impact the quota, and we’ll have to keep an eye on that.”
Recreational and commercial catch quotas for upriver bright fall chinook are based upon a percent of the total upriver bright run, so an increased run equates to a larger quota, which allowed the states of Oregon and Washington to re-open the recreational fishery in these areas. The area from Hood River Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington border was reopened for chinook retention on Sept. 22.
Fall chinook sport and commercial fisheries are managed on separate quotas that are each based upon a percentage of the total run size, making it possible for one fishery to achieve its quota and be closed while another fishery has not reached it’s quota and remains open. Oregon and Washington managers closed the recreational chinook fisheries when the run was downgraded by forty percent earlier this month because sport fisheries had exceeded the available recreational upriver bright quota at that reduced run size. Commercial fisheries were below the allocated upriver bright quota, and were allowed to continue. With the upgrade in run size, the commercial and recreational quotas have both been increased. The increase in the recreational quota was sufficient to re-open the closed areas.
Returns of broodstock to Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery in Bonneville Reservoir are tracking below the number of fish needed to meet the hatchery’s production needs. The facility is located just downstream of the Hood River Bridge. In order to avoid additional losses of fish returning to this facility, sports fisheries above Bonneville Dam that were re-opened on September 22 were opened only from Hood River Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco, Washington. Today’s action reopens the area between Bonneville Dam and the Hood River Bridge for chinook retention. An existing sanctuary at the hatchery entrance is believed to be sufficient to allow escapement of fish to the hatchery for the remainder of the season.
The mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco, Washington also remains open for coho and adipose fin-clipped steelhead. Non-adipose fin-clipped coho must be released downstream of the Hood River Bridge. Effective Sept. 29, the bag limit for salmon below Bonneville Dam will be increased to allow anglers to harvest two additional hatchery coho per day. Beginning September 29, the daily bag limit below Bonneville Dam of two adult salmon or steelhead (only one of which may be a chinook) will be modified to allow the retention of two additional adipose fin-clipped coho.
Plans and catch allocations for the 2007 Columbia River fall fisheries were developed during the Pacific Fishery Management Council North of Falcon public process in March and April of 2007.
Additional information may also be found on ODFW's Web page at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/index.asp