Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Washington: Spring chinook fishery extended again on lower Columbia River

Columbia River anglers will have four more days to catch
hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon below Bonneville Dam, where
tough fishing conditions have held this year’s catch below expected
levels since late last month.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed Thursday to
extend the season through April 19 to give anglers more time to
reach the initial harvest guideline set at the beginning of the
season.

The additional four days of fishing will follow on the heels of
an eight-day extension previously approved through April 15.

Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said test
fisheries have found relatively high concentrations of spring
chinook salmon in the lower river, but water conditions have slowed
their passage over Bonneville Dam and made them hard to catch with
a hook and line.

“Anglers have been catching fish in some areas of the lower
river, but turbid, high-water conditions have put a damper on
overall catch rates,” LeFleur said. “Visibility underwater is about
two feet, so the fish have a hard time seeing anglers’ lures.”

Through April 15, lower-river anglers are projected to have
caught and kept a total of 5,900 spring chinook, including 4,600
upriver fish that count toward the 7,700-fish harvest
guideline.

This year’s harvest guideline for the lower river fisheries is
based on a projected return of 198,400 upriver fish, minus a 30
percent “buffer” to guard against overestimating the run. Based on
the estimated catch through April 19, the fishery will close with a
buffer of approximately 43 percent, said Guy Norman, WDFW southwest
regional director.

“After this extension, we don’t anticipate making any changes in
the season until more fish pass over the dam and we can update the
run-size forecast,” Norman said. “We want to give lower-river
anglers a chance to catch some more fish, but we also have to make
sure we can meet our conservation objectives and our obligations to
upriver fisheries.”

The fishery affected by the extension ranges from Buoy 10
upriver to Rooster Rock for boat and bank anglers, and to the
fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam for bank anglers only. When
the fishery is open, anglers can retain one marked, hatchery-reared
adult chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.

Anglers may also retain shad and hatchery-reared steelhead when
the spring chinook fishery is open. However, all wild salmon and
steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin
must be released unharmed.

The fishing extension does not affect the spring chinook season
above Bonneville Dam, which will be reviewed at a joint-state
hearing April 20. That fishery is open seven days a week through
April 24 between the Tower Island powerlines below The Dalles Dam
and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary
Dam. Bank fishing is also allowed from Bonneville Dam upriver to
the powerlines located about 6 miles below The Dalles Dam through
April 24.

Anglers fishing above Bonneville Dam can retain up to two
marked, hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon or hatchery steelhead
as part of their daily limit.

 

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