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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 6, 2011 at 9:51 PM

Know your rules when fishing for spring chinook in the Lower Columbia River region

This wasn’t my lead story for the Sunday outdoor notebook, but listen up all anglers who plan on heading down to fish the “Big Lower C” in the days to come.

Many Washington anglers are planning to fish for spring chinook both on the Willamette in Oregon and Lower Columbia rivers.

They’re also wondering how to deal with a two-spring chinook daily limit in the Willamette, and a one-spring chinook daily limit in Lower Columbia.

“The simple answer is you just can’t exceed your possession limit where you’re sitting (or should we say fishing),” said Sargent Rick Webb with state Fish and Wildlife enforcement in Vancouver.

What that means is you can catch one spring chinook in the Columbia, and then go into the Willamette and pick up a second fish. But, remember you need an Oregon license to fish the Willamette, and a Washington or Oregon license for the Lower Columbia.

What you can’t do is catch your one spring chinook in the Willamette, and then go out into the Columbia to catch your second fish.

If you’re lucky enough to catch that “second spring chinook,” then officer Webb says, you’re allowed to pass through the one-fish limit area, but you can’t stop and fish again or that’s breaking the law.

Another new rule is you have to keep fish whole and not fillet it (you can gut and bleed it on the water) until you get to your primary mode of transportation on land.

In the Lower Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam the daily limit is two adult adipose fin-clipped salmon or steelhead (chinook longer than 24 inches and steelhead longer than 20 inches), of which no more than one may be a chinook, and five adipose fin-clipped chinook jacks.

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