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Initial Columbia River recreational spring Chinook seasons set

February 22, 2023

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington adopted recreational spring Chinook seasons for the Columbia River during a joint state hearing today.

Effective March 1 (downstream of Bonneville Dam) and April 1 (upstream of Bonneville Dam), the following regulations will take the place of permanent rules for the mainstem Columbia River between Buoy 10 and the Oregon/Washington border (see 2023 regulation booklet for permanent rules).

Catch rates and fishery performance will be monitored in season. Additional fishing days may be added after an in-season update of the expected upriver spring Chinook run size in mid-May.

Downstream of Bonneville Dam

  • Season: Wednesday, March 1 through Friday, April 7
  • Bag limit: Two adult hatchery salmonids (Chinook or steelhead) per day, but only one may be a Chinook.
  • Open area: Buoy 10 line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank) plus bank angling only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline. Legal upstream boat boundary defined as: a deadline marker on the Oregon bank (approximately four miles downstream from Bonneville Dam Powerhouse One) in a straight line through the western tip of Pierce Island to a deadline marker on the Washington bank at Beacon Rock. For exact boundaries visit https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone
  • Shad may also be retained.

Bonneville Dam to Oregon/Washington Border (upstream of McNary Dam)

  • Season dates: Saturday, April 1 through Saturday, May 6
  • Bag limit: Two adult hatchery salmonids (Chinook or steelhead) per day, but only one may be a Chinook.
  • Open area: Tower Island power lines (approximately six miles downstream of The Dalles Dam) upstream to Oregon/Washington border, plus the Oregon and Washington banks between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines.

Prior to an in-season run size update, the fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam will be managed for a guideline of 6,487 upriver spring Chinook and the fishery between Bonneville Dam and the Oregon/Washington-state line will be managed for a guideline of 927 upriver spring Chinook (these guidelines include kept catch plus release mortalities).

Forecasts for several 2023 spring Chinook stocks have improved since last year and remain higher than the 10-year averages. The overall forecasted return of adult spring Chinook to the Columbia River mouth (including both upriver and lower river stocks) is 315,600 fish. This is an improvement over last year's actual return of 286,954 fish and is 126 percent of the recent 10-year average.

But while the total upriver spring Chinook forecast of 198,600 adults would be higher than last year's return and above the 10-year average of 150,485 fish, fisheries this year are constrained due to the low forecasted return of ESA-listed Snake River natural origin spring/summer Chinook.

Columbia River spring Chinook salmon seasons are driven by Endangered Species Act limitations and management agreements between the states and Columbia River Treaty Tribes specifying the total harvest guideline of upriver-origin spring Chinook.

This year, the Snake River natural origin spring/summer Chinook return is just 6.6 percent of the total upriver run size which triggers reductions in allowable ESA impact rates for the overall fishery. (This is based on the management agreement when Snake River natural origin component is less than 10 percent of the total run.) To allow for uncertainty in preseason forecasting and ensure the fisheries are within their conservation limits, the agreement also requires a 30 percent reduction from the forecasts (i.e., a run-size buffer) to start the season.

"We carefully craft our fisheries to stay within ESA constraints and closely track actual performance throughout the season," said Tucker Jones, Columbia River Program Manager. "We appreciated hearing from Tribes, recreational, and commercial fishermen today and thank all partners for their continued support of fish conservation."

A run-size update is expected in May (passage at Bonneville Dam is usually 50 percent complete by May 10) and additional spring Chinook fishing opportunity may be added on the mainstem Columbia River if run size and impacts allow.

Anglers are reminded that the use of barbless hooks is required when angling for salmon or steelhead in mainstem Columbia River waters from the mouth upstream to the OR/WA state line.

As fishing regulations can change in-season, anglers are responsible for checking their angling zone in ODFW's Recreation Report / Fishing Report before fishing, https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/

Fishery managers also took action today to align daily bag limit regulations between fisheries in the mainstem and Select Area sites in the estuary.

Effective March 1 through June 15, on days when the mainstem Columbia River recreational fishery below Bonneville Dam is open to retention of Chinook, the daily salmonid bag limit in Oregon and Washington Select Areas will be the same as mainstem Columbia River bag limits. On days when the mainstem Columbia River recreational fishery below Bonneville Dam is closed to Chinook retention, the permanent salmonid bag limit regulations for Select Areas apply (see Columbia River Zone permanent regulations). These waters are open year-round to Chinook salmon (hatchery only during Jan. 1 – July 31), hatchery steelhead, and hatchery coho except for some seasonal tributary closures.

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Contact:

Jeff Whisler, (971) 673-6024
Michelle Dennehy, (503) 931-2748

 
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