Season to open no later than June 16
Salem, Ore. -- Due to a smaller than expected return of spring chinook, and the need to further reduce incidental impacts on returning fish, Oregon and Washington fishery managers decided Monday to delay the opening of summer steelhead season (including chinook jacks) on the Columbia River from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge. The season was scheduled to open this Friday.
Last Friday, the US v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee revised the estimated spring chinook return to the Columbia River downward from 269,000 to 180,000 fish. While it’s too soon to say why the projected large run hasn’t materialized, non-tribal fisheries have exceeded the impacts allowed under the Endangered Species Act and managers must now take additional measures to reduce additional incidental mortalities to the federally-listed spring chinook salmon run.
The summer steelhead season will re-open no later than June 16, which marks the end of the spring management season for chinook.
“By delaying the start of the steelhead season until after almost all spring chinook have passed through the main stem of the Columbia, we hope to minimize the number chinook incidentally caught by steelhead anglers,” said Steve Williams, ODFW assistant administrator for Columbia River fisheries.
At the same time, fishery managers left in place the recreational shad fishing season that opens on May 16 below the I-5 Bridge because anglers targeting shad encounter fewer chinook, and use small hooks and light tackle that minimize their impact on chinook salmon.
Managers also decided that select area recreational fisheries in Youngs Bay, Blind/Knappa Sloughs and Deep River will remain open to chinook retention seven days a week under permanent regulation. These fisheries traditionally catch very few upriver chinook. Commercial fishing in these areas was rescinded for the week of May 12 due to concerns about encounters with upriver fish.