June 25, 2012
ENTERPRISE, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced the spring chinook fishery on the Imnaha River will close effective at sundown this Wednesday, June 27. The closure is recommended as managers estimate the prescribed fishery impacts to wild Imnaha chinook have been met.
The Wallowa River will continue to be open for chinook until further notice.
Managers attribute the sudden closure to a surge in number of wild chinook handled in the fishery last week, and relatively modest wild impacts allowed in the sport fishery after the abundant pre-season run projections fell short of expectations.
“The number of wild fish we can handle, and hatchery fish we can harvest, are directly linked to the expected run size,” said Jeff Yanke, ODFW district fish biologist in Enterprise. “Unfortunately, the recent reductions in the run estimates for the Imnaha River mean we can’t offer a longer fishery.”
According to Yanke, only 40 percent of the pre-season run projections showed at mainstem Columbia and Snake River dams.
The fishery was opened on June 9, and unlike the past few years, water conditions early in the season were relatively good for fishing. Earlier opportunity, however, may have also led to lower densities of fish as chinook were just beginning to enter the Imnaha River.
“Despite the relatively slow catch rates this year, the sport fishery catch has gradually accrued over the past few weeks,” Yanke said.
“It’s always a disappointment to bring this to a close, and we apologize for the inconvenience the timing causes,” Yanke added. “But thankfully the run size was just large enough to have at least some opportunity for a season.”