SALEM, Ore. –Anglers can look forward to improved returns of chinook salmon this year when the fall season opens Aug. 1 on the Columbia River.
Fisheries managers are forecasting a return of about 377,000 adult fall chinook this year, which is about average, but is improved over the 2007 return of 219,000 fish. The total includes five major runs of chinook salmon, each with its own management guidelines.
The forecast is based, in part, upon improved returns of younger “jack” salmon last year, which generally indicate conditions favorable to ocean-going fish and a larger run the following year. It includes the estimated return of 86,200 chinook – up from 14,600 last year – bound for the Spring Creek hatchery above Bonneville Dam.
“This year’s predicted fall chinook run should be considerably better than last year and provide for decent fishing, especially at Buoy 10,” said John North, Columbia River fisheries manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “With the exception of the Lewis River, predicted returns for chinook stocks are improved from 2007.”
ODFW recommends that before fishermen head out to the river to pursue these prized fish, to make sure they understand new season dates and regulations that apply to the popular fall Columbia River salmon fisheries and stay tuned for changes that can take place as new information becomes available.
Based on an available quota of 6,500 chinook, Buoy 10 anglers will have up to 31 days to catch chinook salmon, which is up from 12 days in 2007 when the quota was 3,800 chinook. The Buoy 10 fishery will be open Aug. 1 - Sept. 1 or until the salmon management guideline of 6,500 chinook is met.
For the mainstem Columbia between Tongue Point and Bonneville Dam, the chinook season is limited to Sept. 1 through Sept. 16, based on an available quota of about 9,200 chinook. The abbreviated mainstem season was necessary to allow for the Buoy 10 fishery while remaining within management guidelines for upriver bright fall chinook. However, the Sept. 1-16 season corresponds to the peak of the fall salmon run.
The seasons and regulations were established based on extensive deliberations between state and federal agencies, tribal representatives, and recreational and commercial fishers through a public forum known as the “North of Falcon” process, which takes place each spring. Harvest management is complicated by Endangered Species Act listings on several fish stocks.
As in most years, 2008 fall chinook fisheries in the Columbia will be constrained by management goals for upriver runs. Biologists are forecasting that returns of lower Columbia River wild bright stock fall chinook, largely destined for the Lewis River in Washington, will be below escapement needs, prompting additional conservation actions. Accordingly, the states of Oregon and Washington have established a chinook closure for the area surrounding the mouth of the Lewis River. A map of the closure area is available on the ODFW website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/columbia.asp .
The following dates and rules apply to the three Columbia River fall chinook fisheries:
Buoy 10 upstream to Tongue Point
- Adult chinook (>24”) retention allowed Aug. 1 – Sept. 1, or until a quota of 6,500 chinook is reached. Daily bag limit is two salmon/steelhead in combination, but only one may be a chinook. Chinook may be fin-clipped or not.
Mainstem Columbia River from Tongue Point upstream to Bonneville Dam
- Open for chinook salmon (adults and jacks) Sept. 1 - 16. Daily bag limit is two adult salmon/steelhead in combination and five jacks, but only one adult fish may be a chinook. Chinook adults and jacks may be fin-clipped or not.
- Closed to retention of chinook (adults or jacks) in the area between a line projected from Bachelor Island, Wash., shore across to the Warrior Rock Lighthouse, Ore., shore downstream to a line projected from red navigation marker #62 at Deer Island, Ore., shore across to green navigation marker #63 at Martin Island, Wash., shore, Aug. 1 – Dec. 31.
Mainstem Columbia River above Bonneville Dam
- Open for chinook salmon (adults and jacks) Aug. 1 – Dec. 31. Daily bag limit is two adult salmon/steelhead in combination and five jacks. Chinook adults and jacks may be fin-clipped or not. Chinook retention may close early if harvest guideline is met.
Anglers should be prepared for in-season changes and check for the latest information, which is available on the ODFW website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/columbia.asp, or through the ODFW telephone hotline at 1-503-947-6000. In-season fishery modifications by the states of Oregon and Washington are also posted at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/action_notes.asp.