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States set spring Chinook, smelt seasons

Jan. 28, 2015

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set spring Chinook salmon and smelt seasons for the Columbia River and some of its tributaries today during a joint state hearing in Vancouver.

The Columbia River spring Chinook season is based on a forecast of 232,500 returning upriver spring Chinook, compared to an actual return of 242,600 last year. The forecast provides for a fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam running through Friday, April 10 with an expected kept catch of about 11,500 spring Chinook prior to a run update. The season for the lower Columbia below the I-5 Bridge opened Jan. 1 under permanent rules. The regulations adopted today will take effect March 1.

Above Bonneville, the states approved a 52-day Chinook retention season starting on Monday, March 16 and continuing through Wednesday, May 6.

“We’re experiencing some times of very good spring Chinook fishing,” said Chris Kern, deputy administrator of ODFW’s Fish Division. “This year’s run represents some outstanding opportunity relative to where we’ve been in the past.”

In a separate individual state action, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it will again conduct a very limited recreational smelt fishery on the Sandy River, from 6 a.m. until noon on Saturday, March 7 and again Sunday, March 15. Washington announced the Cowlitz River recreational smelt fishery will take place on Saturday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 14, also from 6 a.m. until noon. This is the second time since 2011 that the states have allowed recreational smelt fishing since the fish were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The following is a summary of spring recreational fishing seasons, including those adopted at today’s meeting.

CHINOOK SALMON

Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam

Prior to March 1, permanent rules, as outlined in the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

From March 1 through April 10, boat fishing will be allowed seven days a week from Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock. Bank fishing will be allowed during the same timeframe from Buoy 10 upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline. The recreational fishery will be closed on March 24, March 31 and April 7 (Tuesdays) to allow for potential commercial fisheries. This fishery will be managed prior to a run update based on the available guideline of 10,318 upriver spring Chinook and may be shortened or extended depending on catch and effort.

The daily bag limit will be two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook. The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day in Oregon.

Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington border

Effective March 16 through May 6, this area will be open to retention of adipose fin-clipped Chinook. Fishing for salmon and steelhead from a boat between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines, approximately six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam, is prohibited. Bank fishing is allowed throughout this area.

This fishery will be managed to the available harvest guideline of 1,376 upriver spring Chinook and may be shortened or extended depending on catch and effort.

The daily bag limit will be two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook. The rules also allow retention of up to five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day in Oregon.

Select Areas

Permanent fishing regulations for recreational harvest in Oregon waters within Youngs Bay and Blind Slough/Knappa Slough are listed in the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

Based on today’s action, effective March 1 through June 15, 2015 on days when the mainstem below Bonneville Dam is open to recreational Chinook harvest, the daily salmonid bag limit will be the same as mainstem Columbia bag limits. On days the mainstem Columbia is closed to Chinook retention, the permanent bag limits for Select Areas will apply.

Willamette River

On the Willamette River, the spring Chinook forecast is 55,400 fish. This is slightly more than last year’s actual return of 51,800 and will allow for a full Chinook retention season as described under permanent regulations.

The Willamette River remains open to retention of adipose fin-clipped adult Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead seven days a week.

The bag limit on the Willamette below Willamette Falls is two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in combination. Above the falls, two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon and an additional three adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be retained in the daily bag limit.

STEELHEAD/SHAD

Effective March 1 through May 15, 2015 the mainstem Columbia River will be open for retention of shad and adipose fin-clipped steelhead only during days and in areas open for retention of adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook. Beginning May 16 permanent rules resume as listed in the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

SMELT

Effective Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 15, from 6 a.m. until noon the Sandy River will be open for retention of smelt. Bank only fishing is allowed, restricted to dip nets, and a bag limit of 10 pounds per person. Under Oregon fishing regulations anglers do not need a license to harvest smelt.

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Contact:

John North (971) 673-6029
Jeff Whisler (971) 673-6024
Rick Swart (971) 673-6038

 
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