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States set Columbia spring Chinook seasons

Chinook fishing
An angler lands a Chinook salmon while fishing on the Columbia River. Salmon fisherman have another good run to look forward to this spring.

January 27, 2016

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set spring Chinook salmon seasons for the Columbia River today during a joint state hearing in Vancouver, Wash.

The recreational springer season on the Columbia from the river mouth upstream to Bonneville Dam will open from March 1 – April 9, with two days off during that period to allow for potential commercial fishing periods.

The Columbia River spring Chinook season is based on a forecast of 299,200 returning spring Chinook, which includes an expected 188,800 upriver spring Chinook. The prediction is down from last year’s banner return of 415,200 springers but above the 10-year average return of 285,000 fish.

Above Bonneville, the state fishery managers approved a Chinook retention season starting on Wednesday, March 16 and continuing through Friday, May 6, with an expected recreational harvest of 900 fish.

On the Willamette River, the spring Chinook forecast is 70,100 fish which is down from last year’s actual return of 87,100 springers but is better than the 10-year average of 61,000.

“We’re looking forward to another year of good spring Chinook fishing,” said Chris Kern, deputy administrator of ODFW’s Fish Division.

The states also announced the winter recreational sturgeon fishery in Bonneville Pool will close effective Monday, Feb. 8, which fishery managers believe will leave enough room under the harvest guideline to offer a short summer sturgeon retention season. In addition, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced a recreational smelt fishery for the Cowlitz River, scheduled for Feb. 6.

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

CHINOOK SALMON

Columbia River mouth to Bonneville Dam

Prior to March 1, permanent rules for Chinook salmon, as outlined in the 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

From March 1 through April 9, boat fishing will be allowed seven days a week from Buoy 10 at the Columbia River mouth upstream to Beacon Rock, which is located approximately four miles below Bonneville Dam. Bank fishing will be allowed during the same timeframe from Buoy 10 upstream to the fishing deadline at Bonneville Dam. The recreational fishery will be closed on March 29 and April 5 (Tuesdays).  The recreational fishery below Bonneville will be managed prior to a run update based on the available guideline of 7,515 upriver spring Chinook. The season 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

Prior to March 16, permanent rules for Chinook salmon, as outlined in the 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.

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.

This fishery will be managed to the available harvest guideline of 1,000 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 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

Based on today’s action, effective March 1 through June 15, 2016 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

Under permanent rules, 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 three adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be retained in the daily bag.

STEELHEAD & SHAD

Permanent rules for steelhead and shad are in effect, except for the following modifications:

Effective March 16 - May 15, 2016, the Columbia River will be open for retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead from Buoy 10 to the Highway 395 Bridge and shad from Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam 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 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

SMELT

A limited recreational smelt fishery is being considered for the Sandy River in 2016 but due to sporadic returns and difficulty predicting the arrival date for this run, ODFW intends to propose the 2016 regulations at a later date. Under Oregon’s 2016 sport fishing regulations, smelt-dippers will be required to have a fishing license for the first time this year.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced a bank-only recreational smelt fishery for the Cowlitz River, scheduled for 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 6. The daily bag limit is 10 pounds per person.

STURGEON

Effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, Feb. 8, the retention of sturgeon is prohibited in the mainstem Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam, including adjacent tributaries. A summer retention fishery in Bonneville Pool will be considered at a later date. 

ODFW staff plans to update the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on the status of the sturgeon population in the lower Columbia River during the Commission’s February meeting.  This is an informational meeting only meaning that no regulations will be proposed.

Columbia Zone regulation updates.

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Contact:

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

 
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