Those who had planned a trip in the near future to the Hanford Reach area of the Columbia River should be aware that the sport fall chinook fishery will close after tomorrow [Oct. 15], which is eight days earlier than expected.
The reason for the premature closure is the in-season forecast for fall wild chinook spawning escapement has dropped below the goal of 28,800 adult fish.
The revised total return estimate (spawning escapement, plus harvest) is predicted to be 33,381 adult chinook.
“Our [state] Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Director’s Office have placed resource conservation as the highest priority in [state Fish and Wildlife’s] Draft 2009-2015 Strategic Plan,” said John Easterbrooks, a state Fish and Wildlife regional fish program manager. “This is [state Fish and Wildlife’s] first attempt to actively manage the Hanford Reach terminal area fishery to achieve a defensible natural spawning escapement goal.”
Through Oct. 11, the sport salmon fishery has caught about 6,340 adult fall chinook. That leaves avout 27,000 adults to potentially spawn.
If the fishery was allowed to continue through Oct. 22, less than 26,000 adult chinook will be left to spawn.
This year’s catch has been good, and is above last year’s catch by more than 40 percent.
Fishing will remain open for hatchery steelhead between the old Hanford town site wooden power line towers and Priest Rapids Dam through Oct. 22. Angling for hatchery steelhead from McNary Dam to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers will remain open after Oct. 22 under the regulations listed in sport fishing pamphlet.