CLACKAMAS, Ore. – On the heels of one of the most successful seasons in recent history, fishery managers from Oregon and Washington closed commercial and recreational chinook salmon seasons in Select Area Fisheries, effective Saturday, April 24.
Select Area Fisheries are bays and sloughs near the mouth of the Columbia River. Funded primarily by the Bonneville Power Administration, the primary purpose of these sites is to reduce fishing impacts on wild and weak upriver salmon stocks by increasing the availability of hatchery fish in off-channel areas of the lower Columbia.
Select Area Fisheries include Young’s Bay, Blind Slough, Knappa Slough, and Tongue Point/South Channel in Oregon and Deep River in Washington. These areas are normally open to recreational fishing year round under permanent rules and open to commercial fishing for spring chinook through early June.
The commercial fishery was closed because the commercial harvest guideline of upriver stock spring chinook has been met. The recreational fishery was closed because the recreational guideline for the lower Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam, which includes the Select Areas, has also been met.
Fishery managers left open the possibility of reopening both fisheries later this year, depending on the number of upriver chinook that cross over Bonneville dam. In a joint state hearing of the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife, biologists estimated that more than 300,000 chinook would be needed to cross into the upper Columbia at Bonneville dam in order to increase the harvest guidelines enough to allow for additional fishing below Bonneville.
As of April 20, 56,735 adult chinook salmon had cleared the dam, which is the sixth highest cumulative count to date since at least 1977.
During the recreational chinook salmon season on the Columbia from Bonneville to the mouth, which ended April 18, sport fishermen logged 166,027 angler trips, which is the highest since 2002. During that period they harvested a record 29,125 chinook, compared to the previous high of 25,700 in 2001. Commercial fisheries in the mainstem and Select Areas have harvested a total of 18,000 spring chinook.
“We’ve had some impressive catches and I’m buoyed that in the past few days we’ve also had some counts of more than 8,000 fish over the dam,” said Steve Williams, deputy administrator of ODFW’s fish division. “It appears that we have a potentially very substantial upriver run, but at this time we have to manage with the information we have.”
The two states will revisit potential salmon seasons again after a Technical Advisory Committee of state, federal and tribal biologists issues a new official run forecast, which is likely to occur in early May.