SALEM – The states of Oregon and Washington decided today to close the Columbia River estuary to retention of coho salmon and steelhead, effective 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31.
The coho fishery from Buoy 10 upriver to Tongue Point had been tentatively scheduled to continue through Dec. 31 or until the preseason harvest objective of 4,000 fish was achieved.
The action was taken Thursday afternoon at a joint state hearing of the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife. It was necessary to close the Buoy 10 season early because recent surveys indicated that more than 5,400 coho have been harvested this year. The figures include 2,560 coho harvested last week alone, with catch rates of .66 coho per angler trip, the highest since 2003.
The action comes on the heels of the decision to close the chinook salmon season on Aug. 25. As a result of today’s action, all fishing for salmon and steelhead in the Buoy 10 fishery is closed, including catch-and-release.
“I have been consistently amazed this year at what we have seen for increased catch rates starting in the spring, on through the fall and now into the coho fishery,” said Steve Williams, assistant administrator for the Fish Division of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Williams acknowledged that it is possible the large catch rates may portend a larger run, but said it is too early to tell so the responsible thing to do is stick to the preseason harvest plan.
The upriver salmon and steelhead fishery above Tongue Point to Bonneville dam are unaffected by today’s action.