THE DALLES, Ore. –Deschutes River fisheries managers have announced that there will not be a spring chinook fishery on the river in 2009, though officials will be proposing a fall chinook season later in the year.
According to Rod French, district biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, managers are predicting fewer than 400 wild spring chinook will return to the Warm Springs River to spawn. Under the current Lower Deschutes River management plan, the predicted run must be at least 1,000 wild fish before ODFW can open a sport fishery on hatchery fish.
“We have seen a significant decline in the return of wild fish over the last three years,” French said. “When the wild populations are this low, we can’t afford any incidental harvest from anglers targeting hatchery fish.”
The Deschutes River is closed to all chinook fishing under permanent rule. However, when returns exceed management goals, a sport season can be opened under emergency rule. Past spring chinook seasons have typically opened in April. The fishery below Sherars Falls is extremely popular because high catch rates offer a good opportunity to catch a Columbia River spring chinook from the bank.
Unlike the wild spring chinook population, the wild fall chinook population in the Deschutes River is one of the healthiest stocks in the Columbia Basin, and the anticipated return should be above management goals.
This will allow fishery managers to propose a sport fishing season for fall chinook beginning in August, French said.