CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Better than expected returns of Columbia River chinook salmon prompted fishery managers from Oregon and Washington to reopen the season below Bonneville dam starting Saturday.
Effective Saturday, Sept. 20 until Dec. 31, 2008 or further notice, anglers will be permitted to keep chinook salmon caught between the Warrior Rock-Bachelor Island line above the mouth of the Lewis River upstream to Bonneville dam. The Columbia remains closed to retention of chinook salmon below Warrior Rock-Bachelor line out of concern for Lewis River wild chinook, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Fishery managers from the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife made the decision to reopen the season at a joint state hearing Thursday after reviewing reports from biologists that upgraded the upriver bright run size to 212,500 chinook from the preseason estimate of 164,400 chinook.
Prior to the run upgrade, the fall chinook salmon fishing season below Bonneville had closed on Sept. 16.
“We’re pleased to be able to offer the additional opportunity in a year when we didn’t think we would have it available to us,” said Steve Williams, assistant administrator for the Fish Division of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It wasn’t something that we anticipated going into the season. We thought we were going to be tighter than this. There was no plan to get us through to the end of the year, and here we are offering a one-fish bag limit below Bonneville until the end of the year. That’s a really good thing.”
Under the rules adopted at Thursday’s hearing, anglers may keep up to two adult salmon and/or steelhead in combination, but only one of those fish may be a chinook. Retained chinook do not have to be fin-clipped. However, any coho salmon or steelhead must be adipose-clipped in order to be retained, as prescribed under permanent fishing regulations. Adiplose-clipped coho and steelhead may also be kept in the Columbia River below its confluence with the Lewis.
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.