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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 5, 2011 at 11:48 AM

First portion of the Yakima River to open this Saturday for spring chinook fishing

Two parts of the Yakima River will open this month for hatchery-marked spring chinook fishing.

The Yakima from the Interstate 182 Bridge in Richland (River Mile 4.5) to 400 feet downstream of Horn Rapids (Wanawish) Dam (river mile 18.0) is open May 7 through June 15.

The Yakima from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap (River Mile 107.1) to the BNRR bridge approximately 500 feet downstream of Roza Dam (river mile 127.8) is open May 14 through June 30.

Before a brief fishery in 2000, the Yakima had been closed for 40 years. Other years it was open were 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2008, 2009 and last year.

As for run timing the past few years the spring chinook return has been a few weeks later than normal. Typically the peak fishing has been the first two weeks of May, but the sweet spot is right around Mother’s Day weekend.

A wild card this year is flow conditions because of the all the snow in the mountains. If it gets hot quickly, anglers could see the river get blown out.

The daily limit is two hatchery chinook with a minimum size limit of 12 inches. Hatchery salmon are identified by a missing adipose fin and a healed scar in the location of the missing fin. Wild salmon (adipose fin intact) must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water before release.

Take a deep breath and read all these rules before you head out to the Yakima, and you don’t want to be caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing in a particular area:

In both areas, the use of two fishing poles is permitted during the salmon fishery provided the participating angler has purchased a “Two-Pole Endorsement” (in addition to the freshwater fishing license and Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead endorsement).

A special rule for Area 1 is terminal gear is restricted to one, single-point, barbless hook with a hook gap from point to shank of 3/4 inch or less when fishing for salmon. Use of bait is allowed.

A special rule for Area 2 is for the duration of this salmon fishery, the upper “closed water” boundary line for Area 2 is moved upstream to the railroad bridge downstream of Roza Dam to provide additional opportunity to harvest hatchery chinook.

Terminal gear is restricted to one, single-point, barbless hook with a hook gap from point to shank of 3/4 inch or less.

During the salmon fishery, the “Selective Gear Rules” prohibiting use of bait and knotted nets is temporarily suspended, but only in the river section open to salmon fishing.

Use of boats equipped with an internal combustion engine is allowed only from the I-82 bridge at Union Gap to the eastbound (upstream) I-82 bridge at Selah Gap.

A night closure is also in effect.

Retention of trout and other game fish is prohibited until the statewide river season opener on Saturday, June 4.

An area closed to fishing for all species 400 feet upstream from the upstream side of the Yakima Ave./Terrace Heights Rd. bridge in Yakima, including the area adjacent and downstream of the Roza Wasteway No. 2 fish barrier rack next to Morton & Sons Inc.

Fishing for steelhead remains closed. All steelhead (rainbow trout greater than 20″ in total length) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water before release.

A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this fishery.

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