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Two rods allowed on the Willamette River for 2024 spring Chinook season

January 31, 2024

ODFW sets minimum Willamette forecast for allowing two rods at 34,000 adult hatchery spring Chinook

CLACKAMAS, Ore.—Anglers will be able to use their two-rod validation in the Willamette River this year for hatchery spring Chinook and all other fish except sturgeon, beginning March 1 downstream of Willamette Falls and May 1 upstream of Willamette Falls.

"Will two rods be allowed on the Willamette this year?" is one of the most frequently asked questions we get from anglers early in the new year," said John North, ODFW deputy fish division administrator.

Since two rods were first allowed in 2016, ODFW creel survey data show that its use has increased from approximately 25 to 40 percent of lower Willamette River spring Chinook anglers. As a result, the total fishery harvest rate associated with the allowance for two rods has also increased to a level that can impact ODFW's ability to meet overall hatchery escapement needs during years with low returns.

Recent analysis by ODFW staff indicates that a Willamette River spring Chinook return of 34,000 hatchery-origin adults at the Columbia River mouth generally results in meeting overall broodstock needs for the basin.

Using this metric, the two-rod validation will be allowed on the Willamette River when at least 34,000 adult Willamette hatchery spring Chinook are forecast to return to the mouth of the Columbia River.

The spring Chinook forecast is usually published on ODFW's Columbia River page in December, meaning next year, anglers should know the status of the two-rod allowance for the 2025 season in December 2024.

Forecasts in 12 of the last 15 years (including this year) have been sufficient to allow for the two-rod validation under this criteria, so ODFW anticipates allowing two rods most years.

"We want to be transparent and let anglers know about two rod as early as possible in the year, so they can decide whether they want to purchase the validation or not," North continued. "We're comfortable that this approach will provide added opportunity for anglers when there are enough surplus hatchery fish, while ensuring our ability to meet hatchery returns needed to maintain these programs."

The 2024 Columbia River spring-summer forecast anticipates 48,800 adult Willamette-origin spring Chinook will return to the mouth of the Columbia River this year. Of the total Willamette adult return, approximately 39,300 are expected to be hatchery-origin fish.

Above Willamette Falls, the two-rod allowance starts later to protect ESA-listed winter steelhead. "Typically, 90 percent of the winter steelhead run will have passed the Falls by May 1 while only a small percentage of the spring Chinook run will have—on average less than 15 percent," said Elise Kelley, ODFW district fish biologist for the South Willamette. "The May 1 date protects the majority of the steelhead run above the Falls."

The two-rod regulation follows:

Area: Lower Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls (including Multnomah Channel), and that portion of the Clackamas River downstream of the Highway 99 Bridge (just upstream of the confluence with the Willamette)
Species: Applies to all game and non-game fish (except sturgeon) when angling is open to hatchery Chinook, hatchery steelhead, trout, or warmwater game fish
Dates: March 1-Aug. 15, 2024

Area: Willamette River above Willamette Falls, including tributaries
Species: Applies to all game and non-game fish (except sturgeon) when angling is open to hatchery Chinook, hatchery steelhead, trout, or warmwater game fish
Dates: May 1-July 31, 2024

Two-rod validations cost $28 for both residents and non-residents. Licensed anglers who purchase the validation can use two rods wherever regulations allow them, which is primarily in ponds and lakes.

Kids under the age of 12 do not need a validation to use a second rod in areas where two rods are authorized.

Anglers should always check for any in-season changes to permanent regulations by visiting the Recreation Report / Fishing Report for their zone and clicking the Regulation Updates tab,


Contact: Michelle Dennehy, (503) 931-2748,
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