OLYMPIA – With spring chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam in higher numbers than expected, fish managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to extend the fishing season on the Columbia River for miles below and above the dam.
In the lower river, the fishery will reopen Saturday, May 9, for one day, and again from May 16 through June 15 from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Beacon Rock for boat and bank anglers. Bank anglers can also fish farther upriver to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.
Above the dam, the current fishery will continue for four extra days through May 10 from the Tower Island power lines to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish upriver from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines during that time.
In both sections of the mainstem Columbia River, anglers can retain one hatchery adult chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit. Any wild salmon or steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be immediately released unharmed.
The decision to extend the fishery was based on a new annual run forecast of 241,000 adult upriver fish past Bonneville Dam – 8,500 more than originally projected, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“This is definitely turning out to be a great year for spring chinook fishing on the Columbia River,” Roler said. “We are now confident that the run will not only meet – but exceed – the pre-season forecast, which allows us to make more fish available for the harvest.”
Through May 6, the total catch by anglers from the mouth of the river to the Washington/Oregon state line is expected to reach 13,170 adult upriver fish, Roler said.
Unlike waters above Bonneville Dam, the lower river has been closed to spring chinook fishing since May 4. Roler said fishery managers agreed to open the lower river May 9 for one day, and will provide several weeks of additional fishing opportunities starting May 16 to coincide with the opening of the steelhead fishery.
“That makes sense, because it also brings the fishery up to the start of the summer chinook season on June 16,” Roler said. “With this year’s strong spring chinook run, anglers will be able to move from one salmon fishery to the next without skipping a beat.”
For more information on fishing seasons, see WDFW‘s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/