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Snake River to open for spring chinook

Lookingglass, Imnaha, and Wallowa rivers seasons planned

April 24, 2014

ENTERPRISE, Ore. – Spring Chinook fishing in northeast Oregon kicks off this Saturday, April 26 with the opening of the upper Snake River to salmon fishing.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will open the upper Snake River for spring chinook fishing under the following regulations:

  • Open to sport fishing seven days a week from Dug Bar Boat Ramp to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam.  The fishery will remain open until a notice of closure is announced.
  • The daily bag limit is four adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook salmon (adult and jacks) per day, no more than two can be an adult salmon more than 24-inches long.  Anglers must stop fishing for salmon for the day when they have kept four jack salmon (equal to or less than 24-inches long) or two adult salmon, whichever comes first.
  • Only barbless hooks may be used. Anglers are reminded to consult the 2014 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for other applicable regulations.

ODFW and Idaho Fish and Game fishery managers, who co-manage the upper Snake River sport fishery, anticipate over 1,800 hatchery adult salmon will return to the base of Hell’s Canyon Dam.  Last year, fishery managers expected only 750 would return.

“We expect the larger run projections for 2014 to translate into much better spring Chinook salmon fishing this year,” said Jeff Yanke, ODFW district fish biologist in Enterprise. 

Based on strong projected returns to the Snake, ODFW fishery managers also are tentatively planning for Chinook seasons in a number of Snake River tributaries, including Lookingglass Creek and the Wallowa and Imnaha rivers.

“Our pre-season projections suggest there will be enough fish in both the Imnaha and Grande Ronde basins to open Chinook seasons,” Yanke said.  “Before opening these fisheries, we’ll be monitoring the lower Columbia run closely to make sure our projections hold up.”

Yanke expects to open both the Imnaha and Wallowa Rivers in mid-to-late June this year. 

“Several factors such as run timing and flows can affect when the fishery opens,” Yanke said.  “But last year we heard from several anglers that preferred fishing in June and, if possible, we’ll accommodate that.”

Tim Bailey, La Grande district fish biologist, is hoping to open the Lookingglass Creek fishery as early as May 31.

“Lookingglass Creek typically offers Northeast Oregon’s earliest tributary fishery for springers,” Bailey said. 

While the upper Snake fishery opens this weekend, it will be a few weeks before anglers start catching fish. According to Yanke, Snake River spring chinook are just now beginning to make their way up the Columbia River.  

“We expect the catch rates to pick up in the upper Snake around mid-May,” he said. But he cautions that run timing can vary from year to year.

Season changes and closures announcements will be posted on the ODFW website and released through local news outlets.




Jeff Yanke (541) 426-3279
Tim Bailey (541) 962-1829
Jessica Sall (503) 947-6023

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