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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

September 1, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Snake River fall chinook fishery opens today for the second year in a row

Some sections of the Lower Snake River opened today to fall upriver hatchery-marked chinook fishing for the second year in row.

Anglers can also expect some changes from last year’s fishery, which was the first Snake River fall chinook fishery in nearly 30 years.

Last year, state Fish and Wildlife opened the fishery in late September when the bulk of the chinook run had already passed by. But, this year fisheries is looking at a bigger return, which allowed the river to be open much sooner.

“They tend to pour through the area mainly in September, and through first part of October, and will continue to come into early December,” said Glen Mendel, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

“The timing this year is much, much better for the fishery, and I just looked at the Ice Harbor Dam fish counts and there was about 600 to 700 chinook coming through per day,” Mendel said.

“The water is a little warm right now [70 degrees],” Mendel said. “Hopefully the cooler weather later this week will be better as far as the water temperatures goes.”

The hatchery chinook fishery is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 15, but could close earlier if the allowable incidental impact to wild chinook is reached. The fishery is allowed under a federal permit that prescribes strict limits on the incidental catch of wild salmon protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Mendel reminds anglers that only hatchery-marked chinook with a missing adipose fin may be kept.

Other changes include expanding the open fishing grounds:

The hatchery chinook fishery will be open from the Highway 12 Bridge (near the mouth of the Snake River) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Ice Harbor Dam, and from the Highway 261 Bridge crossing on the Snake River (approximately one half mile upstream from Lyons Ferry Hatchery) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Little Goose Dam.

In most of the open area, the daily catch limit will be two hatchery adult chinook (24 inches or greater), and four chinook jacks (less than 24 inches) either wild or hatchery-marked.

One exception is along the “wall” and walkway area upstream from the juvenile fish bypass return pipe (below Little Goose Dam), where the daily limit will be one hatchery adult chinook and up to two chinook jacks, Mendel said.

“Anglers must stop fishing for salmon once they retain the daily limit of adult hatchery salmon,” he said.

In addition, a night closure will be in effect for all species within the boundaries of the fishery, including steelhead. Retention of steelhead is traditionally allowed beginning Sept. 1.

Coho salmon, adult wild chinook and wild steelhead must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. No chinook or steelhead can be removed from the water unless the fish is retained as part of the daily catch limit.

Angler should check the regulation pamphlet for more details on the fishery.

“It’s important for anglers to be able to identify their catch because wild chinook salmon, coho salmon and wild steelhead are in the Snake River during this fishery,” Mendel said.

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